Safecast

Safecast is a global project working to empower people with data, primarily by building a sensor network and enabling people to both contribute and freely use the data we collect. After the 3/11 earthquake and resulting nuclear situation at Fukushima Diachi it became clear that people wanted more data than what was available. Through joint efforts with partners such as International Medcom and Keio University, Safecast has been building a radiation sensor network comprised of static and mobile sensors actively being deployed around Japan - both near the exclusion zone and elsewhere in the country. Safecast supports the idea that more data - freely available data at that - is better. Our goa...
Feb 27, 2014

3 Year Anniversary

As we enter March 2014 we're facing the third year anniversary of the 3/11 Tohoku earthquake and thus the foundation of Safecast. We thought this would be a good time to both reflect on what has been done in that time as well as look to the future and what the next 3 years might bring.

On our end, we just celebrated hitting our 16 millionth data point and co-founder Joi Ito will be giving a talk next month at TED about how we started and what came of that. The bGeigie Nano kits that we developed have been very popular and enabled that huge spike in data points now coming in from all corners of the earth including Antartica and Sudan - places we never imaged collecting data.

In Tokyo on March 15 & 16 we're hosting a series of talks on this "what happens next" topic and thinking about everything from sustainability of this project, to black swan events that are hard to predict but come with huge concequences. On Saturday we'll be at Tokyo University and on Sunday we'll be back at our offices in Shibuya. On Sunday we'll also host a global hackathon to update the website and fine tune our online offerings. If you'd like to join, or help out from afar please join the Safecast hackathons mailing list which can be found here.

We're also hoping to host our first US events in the following months, it's looking like DC in April, and Los Angeles shortly there after. If you are in those areas and want to help out please stay tuned.

Once again, thank you for all your support. We really couldn't have pulled this off without it.

Aug 26, 2013

bGeigie Nano Kit released

Aizu build event
Aizu build event

As those of you who have been following Safecast for a while know, the "bGeigie" is the radiation monitoring platform we developed specifically to take readings while mobile -be that in a car, on a bike, or walking. Since the beginning of Safecast our volunteer force has been restricted not by interested people, but in devices to let them use. We just couldn't make enough fast enough. Over the last 2 years we've been refining the bGeigie platform again and again, with the intention of making is small enough that anyone could carry one around, and simple enough that it could be built in a few hours by anyone with a soldering iron. The bGeigie Nano is the results of those efforts, and it's the workhorse device the entire Safecast team relies on now. Together with our hardware partner International Medcom we're excited to release the bGeigie Nano kit. 

With a 2" pancake sensor, onboard GPS, data logging, and everything else the Nano without question our favorite tool in the Safecast aresenal. We recently held a build party in Aizu, Fukushima and built 13 of them in a weekend with the help of a team of volunteers - many of whome had never picked up a soldering iron before. The kit isn't cheap - but it's not designed to be a low cost solution. It's designed to be the best device we could imagine making, and it collects reliable accurate data configured perfectly for the Safecast dataset. This kit allows anyone in the world to take mobile readings and submit them back to to us. It's only been available for a month but we've already had a number of organizations buy several kits for their teams around the world as well as over 50 individuals who otherwise wouldn't have had access to this equipment. We're expecting to see data from Sudan and several parts of Russia soon.

This is a huge step for us and we're very excited to see how this helps us fill in some of the harder to reach gaps in the Safecast map and dataset.

bGeigie Nano
bGeigie Nano

Links:

May 24, 2013

Drones

We're just back from our 2nd hackathon of the year. We're trying to do each hackathon in a different city so that it's accessible to different people each time. In January we met in Tokyo, and last month we met in Boston (Cambridge actually, with the support of MIT). In January we spent a week working on anything and everything and while we got a lot done, admittedly it was a bit chaotic. For this event we wanted to focus the efforts a little more while still addressing a number of issues.

We decided to begin work on the "Safecast Air Force" or drone program as the focal point for this.

Drones are interesting for a number of obvious reasons, but for our purposes if we have a device that we can send out with any number of sensors onboard that can scan an area that is unsafe or unnavigable - that's huge. So that's what we focused on for the week. In doing so, it allowed us to think about how to made our sensors a bit more modular (swap out radiation for air quality, etc), how best to transfer data (keep onboard, or broadcast - using SMS or wifi, etc) and how to display data taking at altitude in relation to data taking at ground level.

All serious issues outside of the context of a drone, but within it that much more interesting. Which can be important with a volunteer team. :)

We started the week with nothing and by the end of the week had a drone with a bGeigie attached logging data as it flew. We tried a number of different off the shelf drone platforms and made quite some progress in deciding which direction we'd continue to work. There are a number of videos of our test flights that you can watch here:

https://www.youtube.com/user/levisimons

All in all it was a very productive hackathon. As always, stay tuned to our blog and mailing lists for more regular updates as they happen. Thanks!

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