One of the most enjoyable case studies I wrote for the book was about the BP CTO group. It is a remarkable band of 12 professionals (yes, just 12) that has over the last decade pioneered - typically years ahead of mainstream adoption -the application of innovative technologies such as sensory networks and predictive analytics across the wide BP family of businesses.
Of course, the chapter was submitted as part of the book manuscript in January, ahead of the Gulf Spill. As you can imagine I have heard from several readers about it and as I go around presenting the book, eyebrows still go up when I present a slide on BP.
So, let me repeat what I tell them - the BP case study is still one of my favorite parts from the book. Whatever you may think of BP, the company and what it did or did not do during the spill, the CTO group is remarkable and every company should strive to get such a small, high-impact innovation team.
One thing I would have done if the book was being printed today was to include the group’s role during the spill. Here are some extracts BP publicly shared yesterday of the group’s activities. They provided me details of some of the technologies they deployed.
“Within days of the spill, CTO Technology Director Curt Smith initiated a satellite imaging solution to detect oil sheen and spread. This technology provided critical data during the early days of the spill and helped cleanup efforts in the ensuing weeks. Radar technology allowed crews to "see" through clouds, a big advantage over other approaches.”
Canadian firm, MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.(MDA) assisted with the satellite imagery (as in photo above).
“To support long-term monitoring of water and marine life in the Gulf after the initial cleanup, CTO Technology Director Dave Truch introduced BP's Gulf response team to "Wave Gliders" — unmanned, satellite-controlled water vehicles. Traveling thousands of miles propelled entirely by wave motion and using solar-powered electronics, the Wave Gliders are collecting data from an array of sensors located around 10 meters below the surface, relaying it to a public website via satellite.”
Liquid Robotics provided the “Wave Gliders” – see video below.
“To face the challenge of tracking of the location and position of hundreds of skimmers and locating thousands of pieces of essential support equipment and assets across 30 storage yards in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida, the CTO implemented innovative "track and trace" solutions. Smith and Truch worked closely with the Mobile Incident Command Center, with vendors, and with other BP teams, to deliver a GPS solution for the skimmer tracking and an RFID-based solution for storage yard tracking of critical assets. Truch presented the skimmer tracking solution at a meeting with Admiral Thad Allen. All attendees, including Wal-Mart executives who had been brought in to advise on tracking issues, were impressed by the design and capability of the solution.”
GeoForce’s asset tracking technology helped track hundreds of skimmers in the Gulf.
Omni-ID provided the passive RFID tags with Motorola handhelds for managing 8,000 big pieces of clean-up gear in the 30 deployment yards.