M Corp has completed big data efforts and grabbed headlines for high-profile projects in California.
But the decade-old company also plays a behind-the-scenes – and little-known – role in protecting the environment; from preventing the introduction of harmful organisms to coastal ecosystem to reducing the risk of oil spills in our waterways.
M Corp has assisted the California State Lands Commission – the agency that oversees state lands, waterways and resources – with a ballast water monitoring system for protecting against foreign organisms and an oil spill prevention system for marine terminals and offshore platforms.
“It’s extremely successful, and has resulted in effective data driven programs,” says Dave Brown, CIO for State Lands Commission.
The agency and the company have enjoyed a great relationship for the past nine years.
“It’s extremely successful, and has resulted in effective data driven programs,” says Dave Brown, Chief of Administrative and Information Services and CIO for State Lands Commission.
How successful? With over 600 million barrels of oil transferred each year at California marine terminals, less than four barrels of oil have been leaked annually into waterways for the past several years, Brown says.
Commission inspectors aggressively monitor oil transfers at the 41 marine oil terminals in the state, many of which are 40 to 50 years old, and the marine oil spill database plays a major role. The system allows inspectors to be deployed using a risk-based matrix based on past history of ships and terminals so the highest risk transfers are monitored
“It’s a lot easier to prevent an oil spill than clean it up,” Brown says from his office in Sacramento. “The more we can watch the higher-risk players up front, the better off we will be.”
M Corp helped build the infrastructure of the marine oil spill database, and CEO Alex Castro developed oil royalty and offshore platform violation systems, effective ways to better track the industry, protect public health and safety and help offset the cost.
“Their approach to a subject is a more holistic method,” says Brown, adding the company will provide the necessary resources, from a business analyst to a programmer, to complete a project. “They know what they’re doing, from soup to nuts.”
M Corp helped build the infrastructure for the system to monitor shipping industry ballast water exchange practices and locations.
The State Lands Commission also closely monitors invasive marine species that may be introduced by out-of-state ships, a serious concern for the environment.
“There are all kinds of invasive species that can be highly destructive and cause significant damage both to the environment and economically. We need to ensure that ballast water practices prevent these critters from being introduced,” Brown says.
Out-of-state ships must report where they flush their ballasts, far enough away from coastal waters where the invasive species aren’t a threat to native California species. M Corp helped build the infrastructure for the system to monitor shipping industry ballast water exchange practices and locations.
“We’ve enhanced their system,” says Jackman Tse, a longtime M Corp employee who works on State Lands Commission projects.
And State Lands Commission has enhanced M Corp.
“One of M Corp’s greatest assets is recognizing the impact of change on an organization,” says Brown, referring to how some commission employees were affected by the new systems.
“We’ve learned a lot, especially the intangibles, like how to build quality relationships,” Tse says of the decade-old connection with the commission.
Brown agrees, adding Castro and M Corp helped the commission “build credibility of the IT staff with the rest of the organization” several years ago with the successful projects. But the company is much more than dealing with data and establishing systems.
“One of M Corp’s greatest assets is recognizing the impact of change on an organization,” says Brown, referring to how some commission employees were affected by the new systems. “M Corp’s important, not just from a technical aspect, but also how it affects the community and the work force, and how they manage the change these projects introduce.”
The company, despite its multimillion-dollar projects in recent years, has the same commitment to the State Lands Commission’s success.
“I look at that company, and I’m just in awe how they’ve built it out,” he says. “They’ve been extremely helpful to our programs and our commitment to protect California’s environment and Public Trust assets.