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Fukushima radiation monitored by citizen science

How Citizen Science Changed the Way Fukushima Radiation is Reported, National Geographic  by Ari Beser in Fulbright National Geographic Stories on February 13, 2016 Tokyo “It appears the world-changing event didn’t change anything, and it’s disappointing,”said Pieter Franken, a researcher at Keio University in Japan (Wide Project), the MIT Media Lab (Civic Media Centre), and co-founder of Safecast, a citizen-science network dedicated to the measurement and distribution of accurate levels of radiation around the world, especially in Fukushima. “There was a chance after the disaster for humanity to innovate our thinking about energy, and that doesn’t seem like it’s happened.  But what we can change is the way we measure the environment around us.”

Franken and his founding partners found a way to turn their email chain, spurred by the tsunami, into Safecast; an open-source network that allows everyday people to contribute to radiation-monitoring……….

Since their first tour of Koriyama, with the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign, Safecast’s team of volunteers have developed the bGeigie handheld radiation monitor, that anyone can buy on Amazon.com and construct with suggested instructions available online. So far over 350 users have contributed 41 million readings, using around a thousand fixed, mobile, and crowd-sourced devices.

According to Franken, “We’re working with communities to install these sensors in people’s neighborhoods. We’re financed by donations only. We get donations so we put together a plan, volunteers provide space, and Internet access, and agree that the data collected are public.

“What we’ve come to determine in Fukushima is that radiation levels are spotty. They can vary from street corner to street corner. We’ve also been able to determine that the levels over the last five years have reduced, partly because of half life of cesium, and because of environmental factors. We’ve also seen an increase in official government data being released in a similar style to Safecast’s drive-by method versus spot checking.”

According to Franken, “There is no safe dose of radiation as it’s debated by scientists; the higher the level, the higher the risk is that it will trigger a cancer. Though, at low levels the risk is much smaller, it is not zero. ……..

One of the biggest problems in Fukushima is the anxiety and the uncertainty that people are suffering from the incident. I think what were doing is trying to alleviate that by giving them ways to educate themselves about the problem and giving them solutions where they can be empowered to do something about it, as a opposed to just going along with the current of the crisis.” http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2016/02/13/how-citizen-science-changed-the-way-fukushima-radiation-is-reported/

February 15, 2016 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, Fukushima 2015, radiation

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