Public Lab is an open community which collaboratively develops accessible, open source, Do-It-Yourself technologies for investigating local environmental health and justice issues.
This is an open source community effort to develop **simple, low-cost aerial photography** methods for a range of conditions. All accessible hardware and software efforts are welcome here!
There are several sub-categories:
* [Balloon mapping](/wiki/balloon-mapping)
* [Kite mapping](/wiki/kite-mapping)
* [Pole Mapping](/wiki/pole-mapping)
* [Kite making](/wiki/kite-making) - make your own!
* [Balloon Mapping Materials](/wiki/balloon-mapping-materials) - where to get them!
* [Camera selection](/wiki/camera-selection)
* [Camera triggering](/wiki/camera-trigger) - snap a picture every second
* [Photo rigs](/wiki/photo-rig) - connect your camera to your balloon/kite/etc!
* [MapKnitter](/wiki/mapknitter) - Stitching images into maps!
* [Mapping curriculum](/wiki/mapping-curriculum) - a range of useful resources
**You can join in by:**
* Reading about goals and [asking great questions](#Questions)
* Trying (and adding to) our [community-made how-to guides](#Activities)
* Building on others’ work; **adapt, hack and remix** the kits to refine and expand them
## Starter Kits
Public Lab’s Kits initiative offers starter kits for kite and balloon photography. The point of the kits is to provide a shared reference design for building experimental setups onto. You can also use our guides as a resource for building or purchasing materials of your own.
**[Public Lab Store's Aerial Photography and Mapping Kits](http://store.publiclab.org/collections/mapping-kits)**
Ask a question about aerial photography
### Design philosophy
These tools are being developed to provide a low cost, easy to use, and safe methods for making maps and aerial images. Over the last few years, we’ve built a global community of mappers who are engaged in discussion around the development and use of this tool and others.
Normally aerial maps are made from satellites and airplanes. The balloon and kite ground-based approach introduces an on-demand capability where events or environmental conditions are mapped at a specific moment in time. Our community is particularly interested in applying this to civic and environmental issues.
Maps are often used by those in power to exert influence over territory, or control territorial narratives. "Grassroots mapping" attempts to invert this dynamic by using maps as a mode of communication and as evidence for an alternative, community-owned definition of a territory. To date, our tools have been used to contest official maps or rhetoric by enabling communities to map sites that are not included in official maps. In Lima Peru, members of an informal settlement developed maps of their community as evidence of their habitation, while on the Gulf Coast of the US, locally produced maps of oil are being used to document damage that is underreported by the state.