Crowdsourced Measurements Create a Global Map of Radiation Levels

Andrew (bunnie) Huang/CC BY 3.0

Whether you think a nuclear meltdown in the future is inevitable or just remotely possible, you should agree it's good to be prepared to measure radiation levels at the site of a potential disaster, and around the world. Inspired by Fukushima, but refusing to wait for the next meltdown to take action, the team behind Safecast is busy creating a global network of citizens equipped with geiger counters, all contributing radiation measurements and benefiting from the common knowledge.

Safecast, formed in the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima meltdown, doesn't take a stance for or against nuclear power, describing itself as simply "pro-data". Its approach is two-pronged. The first part is data collection. To improve on official readings they regard as simplistic and sometimes misleading (saying a single data point can be extrapolated to an entire city), Safecast volunteers go out with professional quality geiger counters, taking huge numbers of measurements.

Their data are combined with those from other agencies, creating remarkably detailed maps of radiation levels around the world. So far, the majority of the 3,163,969 measurements Safecast has collected are concentrated in Japan (understandably), with pockets around New York, Central America, northern India, Chile and Peru.

As the network grows, so will common and collective knowledge of the greatest threat nuclear power poses to mankind and hte rest of the natural world. The information is important now, and can quickly become life-saving, as disasters like Fukishima and Chernobyl have made all too clear.

Tags: Gadgets | Japan | Nuclear Power