[ RadSafe ] Fukushima radiation monitored by citizen science in National Geographic

Roger Helbig rwhelbig at gmail.com
Mon Feb 15 06:11:53 CST 2016

the direct link to this at National Geographic is


Roger Helbig

Fukushima radiation monitored by citizen science

by Christina MacPherson

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

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.”


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