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New Ways of Seeing in Jerusalem - the Environment + Justice Micro Magazine

by hagitkeysar | almost 6 years ago | 0 | 1

I wrote a short piece about my work with Public Lab's tools in Jerusalem for the first issue of Evidence and Influence Micro-Magazine, edited by the Tactical Technology Collective. In this issue you can also find a piece by Mikel Maron who shares 10 inspirational environmental maps, including public lab's stuff, and other really interesting pieces from Lebannon, Liberia, Sudan, and more, in the context of info-activism. Check it out.

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    Public Lab Community Newsletter - August 30, 2013

    by warren | about 6 years ago | 0 | 0

    (Above, an aerial image taken at last year's Extreme Citizen Science balloon mapping at University College London)

    Hello all -- happy Friday; we've got a LOT of events in coming weeks, so be sure to look for things happening near you! Want to add things to the newsletter? Email

    Remember -- you can subscribe to this newsletter or follow via RSS.


    Public Labs has joined the Gulf Monitoring Consortium. “working together to investigate and publicize pollution in the Gulf region” -- read more at

    A new map of regional Public Lab groups has been posted at -- which also links to the start a chapter page

    Skytruth, a fellow (and founding) member of the Gulf Monitoring Consortium, is crowdfunding an attempt to use thermal photography to map gas flares from North Dakota's Bakken Shale. Read more here:

    Upcoming Events

    Check out the LEAFFEST weekend gathering in Salisbury, Vermont on September 7 & 8 -- (This is a great opportunity to get involved in infrared photography research.)

    Barnraising topic sessions brainstorming has begun as the 2013 Public Lab conference approaches:

    Farm Hack has asked if Public Lab would also join them at the Maine Common Ground Country Faire that same weekend!

    Mathew and Shannon are doing a couple of workshops next week in London. If you know anyone interested in participating, please contact Shannon at

    Sept. 6th 18:30-22:30: Kite/Balloon Mapping First workshop]( making kites @ the Mildmay Community Centre, N16 8NA, East London

    Sept. 7th 11:00-16:00: Kite/Balloon Mapping Second workshop: fly, map, & interpret @ the Mildmay Community Centre, N16 8NA, East London

    Sun 8th Sept 14:00-17:30: DIY Spectrometry - introduction to spectrometry workshop @ UCL, Gower St. main entrance.

    Mon 9th Sept 18:30-22:30: Testing the PLOTS DIY Spectrometer workshop: 'advanced' applications @ UCL, Gower St. main entrance

    Join your fellow Public Labbers at World Maker Faire the weekend of September 21-22! -- We will be making a main stage presentation as well as staffing two (2!) tables: our own, and one inside the Farm Hack tent to highlight the Infragram. This is a great opportunity to hang out with some visiting Public Lab folks from out of town. I (Liz Barry) personally guarantee it will be a fun time. There will be a lot of visitors to our table so it's a great chance to speak about your own work if desired and make connections! Please email if you can attend.

    New and ongoing projects

    Brief report back and image sharing from the Tidmarsh Farms meetup last weekend:


    Research Note highlights

    Detecting cyanobacterial blooms with Infragram cameras (above image) near the Museum of Science in Boston:

    A contributor from Spain posts about an improved spectrometer design for testing liquid samples:

    An Australian contributor shares his high precision agricultural mapping an offers suppor to others attempting similar work: (see image below)

    Hot topics on the mailing lists

    Spectrometry curricular materials for younger students:!topic/plots-spectrometry/fuwa0T__PZs

    Detecting lead in lipsticks with spectrometry:!topic/plots-spectrometry/oDWsa9k2_OQ


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    Public Lab Community Newsletter - August 23, 2013

    by warren | about 6 years ago | 0 | 0

    Happy Friday, Public Lab! Lots happening this week between updates on two Kickstarters, hundreds of new potential contributors to our infrared photography project, and various announcements and upcoming events. Stay cool, summer’s almost over!

    Remember -- you can subscribe to this newsletter or follow via RSS.


    We’re proud to announce that Public Lab is a Semi-Finalist for the Buckminster Fuller Challenge!

    Public Lab’s store is now carrying balloon mapping kits with a new box design by Nickolas Peter Chelyapov.

    Upcoming Events

    Planning and registration continues for the October Public Lab Barnraising in Cocodrie, Louisiana

    Sunday Aug 25th, 11am-4pm in Manomet Massachusetts: Infrared balloon mapping event at Tidmarsh Farms with the MIT Media Lab’s Responsive Environments group and Public Lab

    The Open Hardware Summit 2013 is coming up on September 6 at MIT (a number of Public Lab folks will be there!), and there is an open call for nominations to the board of the Open Source Hardware Association.

    At Mozilla’s Mozfest in October in London, Public Lab has proposed a session on “Open source science: not just for scientists”:

    New and ongoing projects with Public Lab tools

    Infragram webcam tests continue as part of the Infragram Kickstarter project

    Infragram DIY Filter Packs have begun shipping from Portland Oregon as part of the Infragram Kickstarter project.

    Public Lab Organizers have compiled a “Give or get help!” list of troubleshooting resources for the hundreds of new Infragram contributors we’ll see in coming weeks and months.

    Smartphone spectrometer injection molding samples have returned from ProtoEdge and final plastics decisions are being made as part of the DIY Spectrometry Kit Kickstarter.

    Japanese Public Labbers recently took their first balloon mapping photos:


    Research Notes Highlights

    Californian Public Labbers recently did coastal observations with kite mapping setups in Malibu Lagoon & Surfrider Beach, Malibu, CA

    Chris Fastie and others have been exploring techniques for post-processing white balance on multispectral plant photographs.

    Contributor bc512 from Australia discusses infrared vineyard monitoring with quadcopters

    Public Lab in the media this week

    Liz Barry, Public Lab, and partners were featured in a short piece in the New Yorker this week on p.22, which covered the urban agriculture pole photography they are doing in NYC.

    2013_08_26_p323.jpg GetImage.jpeg

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    Public Lab Community Newsletter August 18, 2013

    by gonzoearth | about 6 years ago | 0 | 0

    This newsletter includes some notes on the growth of with some stats on the visitors to the site. Lots of great research related to outdoor August activities getting posted online. We got your hornworms and goat brush control covered in the action from this last week.


    Note on Public Lab community growth on the web:

    Upcoming Events

    Boston-area event at Tidmarsh Farms, more info coming soon at - Tidmarsh Farms is a 577 acre cranberry bog of which 250 acres are currently undergoing restoration to natural wetland. IR balloon mapping will help researchers from UMass Boston and the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration identify natural peat springs that will inform the design of new stream channels to produce a self-sustaining wetland ecosystem.

    The Open Hardware Summit is coming to MIT on September 6th. User gbathree put up a research note about preparing for the event:

    New and ongoing projects with Public Lab tools expands client-side image processing to include a new simple mathematical language for compositing images:

    Some great imagery on goat-powered brush control for fire prevention:

    Expanding the spectra archive at with import from NIST and WebMineral:

    The Trapa Natans invasive species mapping continues with these notes on detecting and classifying the map data:

    Hornworms! An interesting tale on imaging unwanted caterpillars in the garden. Potentially startling animated GIF included:

    Research Notes Highlights

    A new wood and metal DIY picuvet design:

    Notes from building a larger kite camera housing for a video camera:

    Trying out smartphone wind meter apps and accessories:

    White balancing a Canon camera for Infragram photography:

    Public Lab in the media this week Over 3000 visitors from From late July, only for UK viewers:

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    Public Lab Community Newsletter August 11, 2013

    by gonzoearth | about 6 years ago | 0 | 0

    Fall 2013 Barnraising We are happy to announce that this year's Barnraising theme is Education! You are invited to join the Public Lab community in person as we gather October 4-6 for the third annual Barnraising in Cocodrie, Louisiana. png_base6464523d3b200f336d.png Shown above: Gulf research station LUMCON hosts the Barnraising. In the background, a Barnstar.

    What is a Public Lab barn raising, you ask? This is the closest thing we have to a Public Lab conference -- but with an emphasis on "doing stuff together" rather than just presenting/talking. In the spirit of bringing a community together to collectively raise a structure such as a barn, Public Lab comes together to develop tools, toolkits, supporting materials such as guides and tutorials, test the tools and develop new research directions and projects. Participants represent a wide range of interests from technologists and designers to social scientists and community organizers. Find more information here:, including a fantastic video of our 2012 Barnraising. Getting started: Join the discussion on the Barn Raising mailing list: We are exploring the dimensions of the Education theme, what sessions will be important to include, and who wants to present which sessions. There is no charge to attend the conference, please note the cost of lodging at LUMCON is $20/night. RSVP here. (direct link: Oh, and did I mention we go boating and kite flying every afternoon? ;) We aim to make this event accessible to new members and familiar voices alike, please let us know if we can answer any further questions or help you plan for your trip.


    Upcoming Events

    • The Gowanus Canal Conservancy, Public Lab, and GLAM are having a stitching Party at 61 Local in Brooklyn, on Monday August 12 at 7:00pm.

    • Public Lab will be at Maker Faire NYC in September; stay tuned for details and get in touch ( if you’d like to help run our booth, or just say hi!

    New and ongoing projects with Public Lab tools

    • website is open for business! Still has some rough edges but it looks great and processes larger images now:

    • Several Public Lab organizers have been working with NASA Develop to investigate oil refinery emissions by taking spectra of stack flares with the Public Lab Spectrometer. This is a challenging task which will require more experimentation to learn how to point the spectrometer at a distant flame, capture spectra from a faint source, and separate the background glow from the spectral emission peaks of sulfur, nitrogen compounds, and organic carbons.

    • Chris Fastie has posted two more notes about the July 22 WATERCHESTNUT event in Amherst, MA. These describe continued efforts to use the multispectral aerial photos to identify the invasive aquatic Waterchestnut (Trapa natans). All WATERCHESTNUT notes can be seen here. Chris would also like to scold Dan and Jake, the organizer and host of WATERCHESTNUT, for not yet posting any research notes from the event as they promised to do! Also, did anyone get any photos of the big purple balloon being flown from the canoe? Please share!

    • Jeff Warren has continued the search for small cameras that can become the Infragram Kickstarter reward cameras. Most inexpensive webcams have CMOS sensors with a particular type of Bayer filter that allow near infrared light to contaminate the blue channel, which must be rather pure visible light to make good Infragram photos. Some small CMOS cameras do not have this problem, so Jeff is confident that he will find some good candidates soon.

    Research Notes Highlights

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    Kite Photo of Ongoing Coal Pollution in Plaquemines Parish, LA

    by eustatic | over 6 years ago | 1 | 5

    Kite Photo of Pollution from United Bulk terminal

    We gained a new perspective on the ongoing pollution from the United Bulk terminal using a "Little Bear" Delta kite.


    Quick Success

    It was a sunny, windy day with uncommonly steady, strong wind at the sweet spot of 15 miles per hour.

    We walked the levee and put the kite up. On account of the excellent conditions, the kite "sank" into the air like an anchor, actually much steadier than any balloon I've ever flown. This is also a testament to the quality of the kite model, I think, which is made to lift laundry.

    the picture below was taken within two minutes. All pictures were taken in ten minutes, and the camera put away before the sheriff arrived.

    It's important to note that

    • we didn't drive on the levee, as per parish ordinance. this becomes more of an issue as high water season has arrived, and levee inspections occur daily.
    • it is perfectly legal to stand on public property and take pictures of pollution. It is important to know property boundaries and assert them if plant managers accuse you of trespass.
    • there are no Homeland Security regulations concerning photography of oil or coal facilities, despite what the plant manager will tell you. (it's different for nuclear facilities and military bases specifically barred from photography by local military authorities)
    • the Sheriff has discretion to arrest anyone deemed a threat. In this situation, the plant manager reported that we were "suspicious," but also that we "look[ed] like normal guys". Our names were run through the FBI system.
    • you might not have such luck with the Sheriff if you don't 'look like a normal guy.'
    • I was glad to have Devin there to talk to the workers and manager while I flew the kite.

    Later, an NRC report was filed.

    Future Modifications

    in the future, I plan on modifying the soda bottle rig to capture obliques. I find that the breen box / picavet is commonly too heavy for Gulf Coast's irregular winds.

    Below is the re-post from

    A few fridays ago, I and Devin Martin of Sierra Club Delta Chapter walked the river to find coal and pet coke washing into the batture.

    On previous trips we had seen both mineral coal and slimy coal tar downstream of United Bulk, and watched as a river otter fed on blue crab in the anchorage of an array of barges. 

    We walked the levee along the blackened river and flew a kite to gain perspective on the source of the discharges lazily spewing from a coal conveyor. Click here to see how United Bulk is polluting the river with Coal and Petroleum Coke.

    Although a mystery to us from google earth photography,which has been wonderful at documenting the long-negligent practices of the terminal, the little pile of petroleum coke building up in the batture of the flooded riverbank was apparent from the kite photos. 

    Our public watchdogs shouldn't stand for this.  Although we live in an area saturated with chemical plants, Petroleum Coke should still be considered a pollutant significant enough for the attention of the Coast Guard. United Bulk is not allowed to just let their waste into our river. When cleaning up the pile would only require simple mechanical fixes--like a cover on the conveyor belt, companies like United Bulk can easily do more to keep it clean.

    Sadly, it's up to us, the citizens ourselves, that must enforce the environmental laws. As of press time, we still haven't heard from DEQ on what is happening at this conveyor, and why it's so dirty.


    Although the plant manager doesn't like it, it's unquestionably legal to stand on public property and take photos of United Bulk's pollution.

     A photo of the kite used to catch United Bulk in the act.

    tar in the batture at United bulk

    tarry substance in the batture at United Bulk

    Scott Eustis, M.S. is GRN's Coastal Wetland Specialist



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