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Within a few hours of explosion at the Fukushima nuclear reactor, Sean Bonner and some of his tech savvy friends met to work together to find out what the potential effects of the disaster were going to be. After two days of attempting to find data on the radiation and it’s spread, they realized there wasn’t any as there was no effective system in place to measure the spread of radiation from a nuclear disaster.

The group decided to start collecting readings to map out the spread of the radiation and publish them but realized that there was a shortage of Geiger counters due to a surge in demand for them from a panicking populace. Unfazed by this setback, the group managed to obtain assistance and some rudimentary equipment to put together their own Geiger counters and started collecting and publishing readings.

In time the group developed their own open source hardware and software platforms, designing mobile GPS based counters that could be strapped to vehicles or kept in rucksacks and which were programmed to record readings every five seconds. These readings could then be uploaded to safecast.org to produce a global radiation map. This map is published on their website and is freely available. Safecast also developed an iOS application that informs people what the level of radiation is at their current position.

 

Map1 CompressedMap2

Users have a choice of multiple different models (or ways) to visualize the radiation data which safecast maintains. Two of the many different types of radiation maps possible are shown above.

As of Dec 2013 Safecast has collected readings of radiation from 14,000,000 data points from around the world. These data points are contributed by volunteers from around the world using Geiger counters. Safecast has also developed a kit called the “bGeige Nano”

which can be assembled into a Geiger counter by anyone with a basic soldering kit. The instrument is also very easy to use and can start taking readings and contributing to the global radiation map by uploading those readings from a micro SD card onto the safecast site through it’s data upload portal.

The website of the safecast project is http://blog.safecast.org/, where you can donate to this initiative or obtain a Geiger kit to start contributing towards this initiative yourself.

 

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References -

http://blog.safecast.org/