Public Lab Wiki documentation


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Nonprofit Initiatives



The Public Lab nonprofit supports specific projects in four topic areas, Open Air, Open Water, Open Land and Civic Kits, in order to enable cohesive community collaboration across hardware, software, expertise, and locale. In each of these topic areas, the Public Lab community is increasing public access to open source data collection tools and techniques, sharing best practices for advocacy, and building networks across the globe. We are working to facilitate easy and powerful ways for people to get involved in environmental investigation in the places we live, work and explore.


Open Air

The Open Air Initiative supports the work of individuals and groups across the globe focused on creating better indoor and outdoor air quality for their communities. From interest in measuring the amount of silica dust in the air to creating an at home set-up for recording refinery flares, the Public Lab community is working toward creating easy, understandable, accessible tools and techniques for monitoring airborne toxics.

Public Lab Open Air projects include:

  • Particulate Sensing: Measuring and detecting particulate matter using sensing devices around silica sand mining sites in Wisconsin.
  • Indoor Air Quality Monitoring: Creating a community portal (Where We Breathe) for sharing and recording information about air quality and health effects in manufactured housing, and developing tools available for self-testing and remediation through a “lending library” model.
  • Hydrogen Sulfide Sensing: Detecting hydrogen sulfide near natural gas hydraulic fracturing sites using colorimetric sensors.

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Open Water

The Open Water Initiative supports communities who seek to investigate, address, and share information about the water quality issues that concern them. From detecting oil contamination to measuring water conductivity, the Public Lab community aims to develop a set of tools for collecting, interpreting and sharing water chemistry data.

Public Lab Open Water projects include:

  • Riffle Water Monitoring: A low-cost, open hardware device that will measure some of the most common water quality parameters such as temperature and conductivity.
  • Thermal Fishing Bob: A DIY device to detect and log changes in water temperature, which can indicate pollution sources in a waterway.
  • The Homebrew Sensing Project: A variety of low-cost, open hardware and software spectroscopy units that can be used to indicate contamination by compounds such as oils and pesticides.

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Open Land

The Open Land Initiative encourages people to document local environments through aerial and ground-based photography. Launching community satellites thousands of feet in the air from Jerusalem to Rio de Janiero, people are capturing high resolution imagery of the world below, supplemented by ground-based imagery and notes.

Public Lab Open Land projects include:

  • Aerial Mapping: Using kites and balloons, communities across the globe are doing aerial mapping to document changes to land, capture the scale of social events such as protests, and help communities contribute to planning processes.
  • The Infragram Project: Using modified cameras and DIY camera hacking methodologies, individuals and groups can detect the health of plants and identify certain invasive species.

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Kits Initiative

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

Kits wiki page: http://publiclab.org/wiki/kits


nonprofit open-water open-air style:fancy kits-initiative open-land