SBIR Phase I: A geospatial technology innovation for advanced data analytics of regulatory permitted and surety bonded industrial mining

Period of Performance: 01/01/2016 - 06/30/2016


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

90 William Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Firm POC, Principal Investigator


The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will result from the development of a scientifically-based standardized geospatial commercial product designed to improve the environmental integrity and financial management of underwriting industrial mining activities. Mining for coal, metals, and other commodities is a multi-billion dollar industry with environmental and societal impacts. Regulations require mine operators to obtain environmental bonds to protect the public from the cost of reclaiming and remediating mine-disturbed lands and their environmental impacts. Financial institutions issue bonds valued in the billions of dollars to underwrite these bonds. As a decision support tool providing actionable information, this product would evaluate mine operations remotely at thousands of bonded sites and assist in estimating environmental exposure and financial risk based on operator, location, and permit. As an environmental monitoring and early-detection system, this product would provide a service for stakeholders to intervene proactively and assign liability to responsible parties as a means of protecting the environment and public from sustaining unnecessary and unchecked damages that jeopardize vital resources, such as clean water, and cost hundreds of millions of dollars in restoration efforts. Currently there is no other big-data and advanced-analytics product of this kind on the market. This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will undertake advanced proof of concept R&D as part of developing a mining environmental integrity and financial underwriting product. The project will process a variety of standardized attributes including mine-feature characterization, mine-waste life cycles, and mine-waste containment. The goal is to develop a product that is intended to be a decision support tool for evaluating mine operator environmental performance and the associated financial risks attached to environmental protection and public health. The key technical challenges of the project are (1) developing standardized and reliable analytical and diagnostic algorithms, (2) processing multiple terabytes of data, and (3) designing an automated big-data analytical system producing standardized and knowledge driven analytics. The Phase I goals are to (1) complete early-stage research and development, (2) expand the research model's mining applications and geographic scope, and (3) begin development of a fully automated GIS big-data processing and advanced data-analytics system. The summary plan to reach these goals comprises (1) data acquisition, data preprocessing, and algorithm development; (2) fieldwork to test the diagnostic-based classification algorithms; (3) lab work to analyze field-collected data; and (4) systematic change detection and interpretations by developing and testing a geodatabase and advanced-analytics system.