Made possible by a grant from the MacArthur Foundation, earlier this week we were invited by the NRDC and International Medcom to come to Washington, DC and show a group of people how to build our bGeigie’s and talk a little bit about the value of citizen/independent radiation and environmental monitoring. We’ve had a number of bGeigie build events in Japan but this opportunity for the first event in the US seemed perfect – we happily accepted. We were able to coordinate dates when Pieter and I would be on the east coast, and at the last minute we learned JAM would already be in DC and he was able to Join us as well. Dan, Orapin and Ross from Medcom rounded out the device build instructors.
This was an excellent group who came together – invited guests from an eclectic and politically diverse group including C-10, SRIC, GA Wand, BEST/MATRR, NIRS, SGS Princeton University, Riverkeeper, Beyond Nuclear, Greenpeace, IEER, DOE/NNSA and DHS/DNDO. Not an uneducated group by any means, we faced a number of legitimate and technical questions about our process and quality control, and as has happened in previous situations recently, people who may have been somewhat skeptical were convinced and impressed with the thoughtful approach we’ve tried to take since the beginning.
On the first day we were able to fully introduce the group to the Safecast project, platform and philosophy and then help them build their own bGeigies, day two involved presentations from some of the attendees about their own projects and field trip around DC to map out levels with their new devices. Over the course of the event we built 17 new bGeigies – the most from any build yet – and added over 200,000 new data points to the database, and mapping out DC which previously we had no data at all for.
This was the map on April 21st:
And this is the map 2 days later:
For anyone with the iOS Safecast app, refreshing the Safecast data will give you access to everything we logged. It’s interesting data – one volunteer passed through an xray machine at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum and others found elevated backgrounds at some of the older, granite buildings and monuments around the National Mall. It’s insightful to visualize some of these readings that are otherwise invisible, and often unknown.
It was incredible for everyone to see how much can be done in a short period of time when people are actual empowered with the tools and ability to make things happen. I think it’s safe to say we have more than a few new evangelists. The attendees will be returning to their hometowns and organizations with their new Safecast devices to continue mapping new areas and speak to others about what we’re up to. Hopefully this will lead to more similar events in the near future.
[Photos by Pieter Franken, Sean Bonner and Dan Sythe] More photos after the jump.