Ethan Zuckerman, director the Center for Civic Media at MIT and friend of Safecast posse everywhere, took a bGeigie Nano for a spin the other day with the intent of checking out some depreciated nuclear facilities not too far from his house. He was successful, at least until the armed guards showed up and told him to GTFO. He wrote an incredibly thoughtful post about his experience and some questions this might bring up – it’s worth a read.
Projects like Safecast – and the projects I’m exploring this coming year under the heading of citizen infrastructure monitoring – have a challenge. Most participants aren’t going to uncover Ed Snowden-calibre information by driving around with a geiger counter or mapping wells in their communities. Lots of data collected is going to reveal that governments and corporations are doing their jobs, as my data suggests. It’s easy to track a path between collecting groundbreaking data and getting involved with deeper civic and political issues – will collecting data that the local nuclear plant is apparently safe get me more involved with issues of nuclear waste disposal?
It just might. One of the great potentials of citizen science and citizen infrastructure monitoring is the possibility of reducing the exotic to the routine.
At Safecast, we’re incredibly lucky to have the support and attention of folks like Ethan, and we’re excited to see where this all leads as well.