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Disaster plan: Philly startup Near-Miss Management is a guaranteed hit

It would be incredibly useful to predict disasters before they happen. That's the goal of Near-Miss Management, a new company co-founded by Ulku Oktem and Ankur Pariyani, who met at the University of Pennsylvania, where Oktem taught and Pariyani received his PhD. 
 
Suppose the BP Gulf oil spill could have been prevented. Or the disaster in Bhopal. Oktem and Pariyani have created the remarkable, patent pending, Dynamic Risk Predictor Suite, comprised of three software programs and four add-ons that are able to predict major problems before they happen, saving billions of dollars annually.
 
"It's an area I started to work on more than 10 years ago," recalls Oktem, who is a senior research fellow at the Wharton School in the Risk Management and Decision Processes Center. "We started out focusing on personal near misses." For example, if a worker slips, but doesn't fall down, that's considered a near miss and an indicator of future problems. 
 
Oktem says the science of close calls has been gaining momentum. It was her work with the chemical industry that sparked an interest in practical applications of a problem that was previously in the realm of academic theory. "Near misses are a leading indicator of accidents," says Oktem. If you look back at unfolding events in the aftermath, adds Pariyani, there will always be several near misses leading up to any major accident.
 
The software suite Near-Miss Management has developed is designed initially to address issues in the chemical industry, and will easily apply to a wide range of businesses, including airlines, pharmaceuticals, energy, defense, finance and insurance.
 
"We expect that once our software is running in a few plants, it will catch on very fast," says Oktem, who cites an annual loss of about $10 billion in the chemical industry due to accidents and unexpected shutdowns. "People who are responsible for risk management of chemical plants are a close knit group. The key is getting the first few companies, and we expect to do that this year."
 
The bootstrapped Near-Miss Management, based in Center City, includes three on the management team and five programmers. Near-Miss Management will demonstrate its software tomorrow at the upcoming Philly Tech Meetup at the Quorum of the University City Science Center.

Source: Ulku Oktem, Ankur Pariyani, Near-Miss Management
Writer: Sue Spolan
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