Chariot Drives Digital Success for Canary Compliance

The next time you visit a gas station, take note of the metal discs embedded in the pavement. Underground gasoline storage tanks are invisible to the eye, but when they crack or leak, the cost to repair and remediate can run into millions of dollars.

Canary Compliance was founded in 2017 to revolutionize underground storage tank monitoring and reporting. Like a canary in a coal mine, the tech startup allows owners to maintain a safe underground environment with ceaseless visibility into tank status. Catching tank leaks early and often saves station owners time, money and headaches while maintaining strict EPA compliance standards.

Challenge: Mandate to Update

Canary came to Chariot for help building its hybrid hardware and software tank monitoring solution. “Chariot has been in business for 15 years and has a great reputation,” explained Canary founder and CEO Jon Kelly. “Because they’d created compliance solutions for pharmaceutical companies, I knew they would understand the complexity of our offering.”

Chariot’s developers were tasked with building the back end and front end for a device that plugs into existing monitors and relays information to a password-protected web application. It is a distributed system with many endpoints.

Solution: Connect and Detect

First order of business was a deep dive into the fuels industry. “The research informed our decisions about how to build the Canary database,” said Chariot developer John Ryder.

Some automatic tank gauges date back to the 1990s. Station owners have devised workarounds. It’s possible to attach gauges directly to the internet. But that’s a security breach waiting to happen. By contrast, the Canary solution is closed. It’s accessible only through cellular technology. Chariot takes security seriously.

Chariot wrote an application to connect the tank gauge to Particle firmware. The hardware is a black box built around the Particle Electron, a cellular IoT solution. From sample devices, the team moved to field testing, using simple commands that couldn’t interfere with business operations.

Then Chariot turned its attention to the software. The team came up with a database design and user interface. The goal was to easily allow users to see tank information on a web interface.

For the backend, Chariot’s developers took advantage of cloud native Amazon Web Service offerings, including EC2 virtual servers, DynamoDb, S3 storage, relational database service, Simple Queue Service, SNS messaging service, and API gateway.

Chariot also employed PostgreSQL, the open source database, and Node.js as a web server. The front end relies on React, a Javascript library for easy to build user interfaces.

Result: Unlimited Growth Potential

Through modern dashboards and charts, gas station owners access instant reports and alarms. In the future, Canary plans to automate a monthly compliance report for instant delivery to the EPA.

That automation is a big change from previous practices. Before Canary, gas station owners printed out a monthly report and faxed it to headquarters, resulting in stacks of spreadsheets and days of labor. After Canary, it’s a matter of logging into a clean, simple site that provides full visibility into underground storage tanks.

Canary officially launched in February 2017, just a few months after Chariot began the project. Growth has been tremendous. By July, the Canary device will be in a thousand stations, with plans to penetrate ten percent of the market by the end of 2017. Because Chariot designed Canary on Amazon infrastructure, the product can easily scale to accommodate rapid expansion.

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