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Kits Initiative

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Democratizing data and science through the Kits Initiative

Public Lab works to "level the data playing field,” making it possible for people to issue rigorously collected, high-quality, local environmental datasets for use alongside government data for verification and advocacy. We do this by building curriculum, hardware, and software; providing space for research and development; and bringing tools to maturity, making them field ready.

The Kits Initiative creates, assembles, and distributes kits from the open research designs of the Public Lab community to foster and develop the reach of open, accessible science, by placing tools in the hands of those that need them. Revenue from the kits program directly supports the Public Lab nonprofit.

Kits Initiative Objectives

The two main goals of the program are:

  1. Building a space to create “big data” through “small data” from grassroots sources through the development of a data publishing platform, formatting citizen-collected data to be comparable to government data, and making data actionable by communities to agitate for change, online and offline, and;
  2. Scaling the development and production of kits, and developing novel kits, to enable over 20,000 participants to produce their own civic data by 2016.

Kits Incubation

Incubating tools within Public Lab not only helps projects grow, but also supports the mission* of the 501(c)3 Public Lab nonprofit by providing low cost access to environmental monitoring tools. Contributors and project developers are encouraged to view this as a way to support research on the project and help move our mission forward, not solely as a means to making a financial profit. The Public Lab incubation process requires project leaders to adhere to guidelines of the Public Lab development process, including open sourcing of plans, cooperative development, and community facilitation.

What does this mean?

Incubating tool development, production and distribution with Public Lab, opens your project to a broad community of activists, technologists, and tinkerers working on related projects, all with the common goal of building a robust toolkit for open source community-led environmental monitoring. Working through the open process allows for helpful feedback, quick design iteration, and sharing of ideas. Additionally, incubating with us provides access to the Public Lab brand, customer base, and production/distribution infrastructure. Public Lab Kits Initiative staff provide necessary support for kit distribution, including promotion of the tool in our online store, organizing payments, and shipping.

Since 2012 Public Lab has been developing low cost, open source and user modifiable kits. By providing low cost accessible kits to the public, we seek to support a growing number of communities in creating a collaborative network of practitioners generating knowledge and data about environmental health. Since 2013 Public Lab kits have been shipped to over 71 different countries and connected thousands of community members.

Through Incubation we seek to help develop new and novel kits, guides, and curriculum to engage over 10,000 participants in production of their own civic data. In doing so, we seek to add to a growing catalog of innovative tools, with an ever broadening reach and accessibility. For more information contact

Currently we have several incubated projects in the works. The WheeStat is our first of these. Developed and produced by Jsummers the WheeStat is a potentiostat for detecting heavy metal concentrations in your water. This is a beta kit and we need testers to support the project and provide feed back. Click on the WheeStat link above or find it on the home page of our store to purchase one. Next up are the Redstone balloon and kite mapping rigs by cfastie and the MultispeQ. MultispeQ beta kits are currently shipping to tester on the approved list.

Public Lab Store

Visit the Public Lab Store »

DIY kits are great for science fairs. Demonstrate how spectral "fingerprints" are used to identify materials, or how to monitor plant health using near infrared photos.

Instructors, join the growing community, and try out some lesson plan ideas. Papercraft Spectrometers make great Do-It-Together science crafts. Get enough for the whole class to build for just $10 each!

Schools, teachers, and institutions can contact for details on reduced shipping costs and bulk orders.

Contact us

The Public Lab Kits Initiative is a part of the Public Lab Nonprofit which distributes open hardware kits to support the Public Lab community. The Kits Initiative is based out of the Public Lab Portland, Oregon office. To reach the Kits Initiative team, email For help with orders placed, please email or call us between 9am and 5pm PST at 503-902-5874

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