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.