After the March 11, 2011 earthquake and resulting radiation leak at Fukushima Diachi in Japan it became clear that people wanted more data than what was available about the earthquake, resulting tsunami and damage to nuclear power facilities. Through joint efforts with partners such as International Medcom and Keio University, Safecast has been building a radiation sensor network comprised of static and mobile sensors actively being deployed around Japan—both near the exclusion zone and elsewhere in the country.

Safecast is a non-profit group building Geiger counters, measuring radiation levels and making the data available to the public through maps, a Web site and data feeds to citizens, scientists and the public. Safecast is releasing data openly and pushing the Japanese government as well as universities and researchers to share their medical, sensor and other data. Open data is a very important trend and pushing people to release their data instead of just their results and findings is essential and adding a new layer of robustness in research that the Internet and data science enables.

While Japan and radiation is the primary focus of the moment, this work has made us aware of a need for more environmental data on a global level and the long-term work that Safecast engages in will address these needs.

Project Details

  • PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Sean Bonner, Global Operations
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • LOCATION: - Safecast's initial mission focuses on Japan but is expected to broaden to other geographical areas over time.
  • PROJECT TYPE: Observation
  • COST: More than $50
  • GRADE LEVEL: 18+ years old

    Inquire about joining Safecast by visiting the following site and filling out the interest form found there.

See more projects in More than $50Observation18+ years old.

What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

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