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Fri 01 March 2013

Event report: NCCJ Briefing & Drinks with Safecast

Event report: NCCJ Briefing & Drinks with Safecast

Safecast – Crowd-sourcing safety

In the fourth of the NCCJ’s “Briefing and Drinks” series of events, NCCJ member Pieter Franken gave a rundown on the activities of his group Safecast, at Loftwork in Shibuya on Feb. 27.

     After the earthquake and devastating tsunami of March 11, 2011, all over Japan people held their breath and awaited information about the radiation spewing out of the stricken reactors at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. A week after the disaster, a group of volunteers founded Safecast, to collect and distribute data on local radiation levels using their own designed and built “bGeigie” mobile radiation sensor units. Small and versatile, the bGeigie units can be mounted on a vehicle or simply carried by individuals, and the data uploaded via iPhone.

     Safecast found that the information from the government was not only slow in coming and incomplete, but in many cases it was inaccurate. Safecast volunteers found radiation levels as much as 10 times higher than the official data, due to localized hotspots and the greater frequency of their readings.

     Two years on, they’ve collected over 5 million data measurements and put the data on their website for all to see and use, making their effort the biggest of its kind ever attempted.

     Safecast is a truly crowd-sourced effort – funding to develop and build the bGeigie units has come from Kickstarter and private donors, and the group has got help from local groups such as Hackerspace and Keio University, as well as from the MIT Media Lab. The data is collected and distributed entirely by volunteers. Their enthusiasm, and Safecast’s success to date, are allowing the group to expand its activities, into monitoring of air and water pollution and food contamination as well as education and outreach.

     After the presentation, lively discussions among the participants and members of the Safecast organization at a nearby restaurant brought the evening to a pleasant end.
For more information about Safecast and its activities, see: . The latest ongoing measurement results can be found here.

Event photos