Saturday, March 03, 2007

Managing nano risks and communication ... all at once

The Innovationsgesellschaft St. Gallen, a technology consultancy firm in Switzerland, just began to offer CENARIOS®, a risk management and monitoring system for nanotechnology, to their clients. Here's an excerpt from their product description:
"CENARIOS® includes a criteria index based on TÜV standards with requirements towards employees, risk assessment and risk management (risk communication and issues management). The certificate for CENARIOS® is given by the certification authority of TÜV SÜD according their standards and it is verified periodically. The certification process ensures that internal communication is optimised and that the risk management system is continuously improved."
What is especially interesting is that CENARIOS is a full-service risk assessment and management tool. It is based on three steps, two of which mostly deal with the ethical, legal, and social (ELSI) aspects nanotechnology. In addition to scientific risk assessment of specific products, the CENARIOS product description focuses heavily on assessments of the information environment, including media coverage and public opinion climates, and on communication-based crisis management and prevention:
Module 1: Risk Assessment Module 1 provides an updated risk portfolio of products and processes and an accurate positioning. A subsequent package of suitable measurements is developed for the reduction of the existing risks. Risks are evaluated and a comprehensive risk assessment is performed. Products and production processes are checked for health-, safety and environment risk potentials using all available data. A widespread product and process risk portfolio is developed. The methodology is particularly adapted to the uncertainty in many risk related areas of nanotechnology.

Module 2: 360o Risk Monitoring System Module 2 provides a comprehensive outlook on strategically relevant developments and therefore provides a competitive edge. Future risk areas are monitored in order to anticipate strategically relevant risks. It includes risk related trends in health, occupational safety and the environment. Scientific, societal and legal trends as legislation, liability claims, media coverage, public perception etc. are analysed and evaluated. Furthermore, specific developments in technology and market trends are monitored.

Module 3: Issues Management and Communication Risk communication plays a crucial role in crisis management. Tools for crisis prevention are created and measures (documentation, trainings and workshops, etc) for professional crisis management are provided. This module bases on the data of modules 1 and 2 and provides the necessary tools for optimal crisis management.
Ironically, some of CENARIOS's scientific assessment tools are certified by TÜV SÜD, the same agency whose seal Kleinmann AG allegedly used without approval for their Magic Nano product line.
"CENARIOS® is certified and audited regularly in an independent quality standard process in which a TÜV-Certificate is awarded. The high-quality TÜV-label testifies a foremost safety level for the risk-management system. It documents the company’s great safety efforts towards customers, authorities and the public."

(Click here for the full release from the Innovationsgesellschaft St. Gallen.)