In line with Colin’s words, most people do not read compliance requirements. Still, they would rather be satisfied by understanding what needs to be done in any given process and move toward achieving their definitive objectives upon adhering to those requirements. Margery Moore, founder, and CEO of ehsAI, also shares a similar thought, reminiscing on her illustrious career at Bloomberg BNA and having engineered several EHS (Environment, Health, and Safety) products. “People do not want to read everything,” says Margery. “We have had thousands of subscribers, the world’s largest database of regulations, and a wide assortment of information sets. But, ultimately, people just want to know what they needed to do in order to get things done.”
This train of thought, backed by her entrepreneurial spirit and 20 years of proficiency in the EHS space, led to an important intuition. She envisioned helping people by automating the analysis of regulatory content using natural language processes (NLP) and machine learning (ML), effectively providing people with a compliance checklist. With this forethought, she reached out to Greg Gasperecz, the mastermind behind Enviance (a cloud-based EHS solution), to bring this compliance tool to life. Thus, the duo began their start-up journey at Spring Activator, a social purpose incubator, which helped them lay and solidify the cornerstone to ehsAI. Soon after, in the fall of 2018, ehsAI was born with a bare-bones algorithm to deconstruct a regulation, thereby validating Margery’s intuition and her’ can-do attitude.’ Today, ehsAI comprises one of the most diverse groups of people in the industry, each bringing their unique skillsets and competencies to the table.
To understand the utility of ehsAI, one needs to consider the status quo of regulatory compliance. Every industry/ business needs to adhere to regulatory requirements per EHS standards, which involve a plethora of documents, policies, procures, and permits. Contextually, every permit or a compliance document is written differently, whether from grammatical or linguistic perspectives – the primary reasons for the lack of automation thus far. And, as the world doubles down on more stringent regulations, thought leaders need to stay on top of these compliance prerequisites, which necessitates the comprehension of 100s and 1000s of pages of regulations. Non-compliance with the same could result in fines that would deal a damaging blow to the sustainability of any business. Invariably, addressing the multitude of these requirements is an arduous task, expending a business’s labor and monetary resources.
In response to this predicament, Margery and the team have built the ehsAI platform that, in simple words, enables people to upload all relevant documents and download just what they need in addressing the aforementioned EHS compliance prerequisites.
We have had thousands of subscribers, the world’s largest database of regulations, and a wide assortment of information sets. But, ultimately, people just want to know what they needed to do in order to get things done
Consider a descriptive passage within a permit mandating a business to conduct periodic inspection and reporting of a piece of machinery or equipment. Such prerequisites are often explained across different sections within the same document, which could confuse the readers due to the subjective nature of interpretation. Since the platform is built to consider all the necessary compliance requirements, it enables businesses to steer clear of human error or oversight. As a result, businesses can now assign these inspection or reporting tasks to the respective personnel without worrying about any step or procedure being missed out in their comprehension. In all of these steps, the users retain the ability to make any necessary corrections or adjustments to those predictions, iteratively improving the accuracy of the algorithm. Progressively, the platform ensures fewer interactions each time users employ the tool as suited for their business. ehsAI has also created a comprehensive record of compliance for ESG, capable of reading any document regardless of when the document was drafted in the first place. It supports 6 different languages— English, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and French— with more to be added in the near future, providing users a better context of the information. The company, owing to the versatility of its platform, has been notified of multiple patents for citation detection, which speaks volumes of the underlying AI engine.
A collaboration that highlights the utility of this AI engine and the platform as a whole is ehsAI’s engagement with an ISO 14001 company. ISO 14001 requires businesses to thoroughly understand their environmental and safety obligations, necessitating them to create a compliance registry and how they measure up to those requirements. Normally, a company would employ a consultant to create the adherence checklist for three to five months.
A noteworthy aspect of such compliance automation is the peace of mind it offers decision-makers through consistent, accurate interpretation of regulations, particularly among the C-suite executives, as it empowers them quickly and affordably to get their work done. “I have heard a client say that they have spent 40 plus hours on a Title V permit but now are able to do the same in less than two to three hours,” explains Margery. “They have said, this is magic.”
Consultant in a Box
The platform's transformative nature transcends the EHS spectrum's barriers, allowing the company to apply this tool across various use cases. “We could easily go outside the realm of EHS and into general permitting and compliance in the legal tech space. We even have people using our platform to deconstruct requests for proposal (RFP) contracts,” mentions Margery. Collectively, the platform generates a curated output for compliance experts by taking command control language and deducing a checklist of compliance requirements while creating tasks and monitoring them. The company hopes to offer the solution as a ‘consultant in a box,’ suited for various requirements within the regulatory space.
The CEO wishes to transform the solution into a mainstream desktop application that everybody could use, streamlining complex regulatory documents into readable ‘Cliff Notes.’ Having started with just one part of the equation, which is the interpretation of the regulation, the company is venturing into more widespread adoption of the platform, tailoring it to numerous areas of applicability. This initial foundation has enabled ehsAI to now enrich its regulatory analysis. For instance, the platform can now translate regulatory requirements into smart fields such as frequency and date, further increasing the granularity of the analysis. Margery says that the firm plans on building upon this functionality and testing the addition of tasks, allowing clients to move swiftly from permits to building out tasks within a few minutes.
“We could easily go outside the realm of EHS and into general permitting and compliance in the legal tech space. We even have people using out platform to deconstruct request for proposals (RFP) contracts”
On the commercial side, the platform’s SaaS architecture also provides clients an economical, scalable pricing model; the number of documents and the use case in consideration would determine the solution's pricing, offering greater flexibility in adoption. Armed with these competencies, ehsAI looks forward to collaborating with clients across some regulation-intensive industries such as Oil & Gas, construction, pharmaceutical, chemical manufacturing, mining, retail, and technology. Even with the onset of the pandemic, the company remained resilient in the industry, welcoming people from various ethnicities around the world into its highly accomplished team of experts. As a woman leader, Margery emphasizes the value of diversity and inclusion and its significance in creating a culture of innovation within the company and for the foreseeable future.
Observing this aggressive roadmap and the journey completed thus far, calling ehsAI’s achievements commendable is surely an understatement. Since its inception in 2018, ehsAI has been growing by leaps and bounds, projecting a 600-800 percent growth this year, and its trajectory seems to indicate only one thing - the sky is truly the limit.