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Sensors / Liz Barry on Public Lab’s Balloon Mapping and DIY Spectrometer

The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science is a community that develops and applies open-source tools to environmental exploration and investigation. Liz Barry, their director of urban development, spoke about the organization and one of its data projects, balloon mapping, in this brief lightning talk.

The Public Laboratory has a growing community of researchers who use open source hardware and software tools and methods to generate knowledge and share data about health and the environment. Its mantras are accountability through evidence, and getting boots on the ground to be able to investigate and hold government and industries accountable when necessary.

The Public Lab has also launched a program to manufacture and sell affordable “civic science kits” which have become extremely popular; these include aerial photography “watchdog” kits and spectrometry kits for measuring contaminants. The balloon mapping kit sells is one of the most popular kits of the group. It allows civic-minded citizens to collect aerial photos from 1000 feet, and has already been used to fly over the Jamaican Bay, and in New York City-based projects among others, according to Barry.