Public Lab Wiki documentation

About Public Lab

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Pursuing environmental justice through community science and open technology

About us

Access to knowledge is a fundamental right. When people want to investigate their environment, Public Lab is the place to go to find and share knowledge, equipment, and community.

We’re rooted in the belief that the best ideas and solutions come from collaborations between on-the-ground communities with deep knowledge of local issues in close, equitable, and sustainable partnerships with networks that bring skills, capacity, science, and technology to bear.

We raise awareness about health impacts, improve scientific agency, build new scientific and technological skills, and mitigate certain exposures. When people can easily and reliably track local effects associated with environmental injustices — increased flooding, poor air quality, pollution and destruction of wetlands — they can make better-informed decisions and take action.

Our history

Public Lab was founded in the wake of the 2010 BP oil disaster, during an information blackout for residents and the rest of the world. In response a group of concerned locals, environmental advocates, designers, and social scientists lofted “community satellites” (made from balloons, kites and digital cameras) over the spill to collect real-time data about its impact. Through an open source platform, contributors stitched over 100,000 aerial images into maps of the coastline before, during, and after the oil spread. These high-resolution maps were featured by BBC and New York Times, among others, allowing residents to speak their truth about what was going on in the Gulf Coast. The success of the grassroots mapping effort galvanized the group to found Public Lab as a new research and social space for the development of low-cost tools and practical methods for community-based environmental monitoring and assessment.

About the tools and data

The science, technology, and data shared on are community-created and open source. These tools enable people to collaborate on and build upon community knowledge, and to share data about community environmental health. We focus tool development on creating tools that are low cost; open source; easy to use; built through public participation and collaboration; supported by a network of practitioners; and that produce meaningful and understandable data. For more information on terms of our open source work, open hardware, and licensing, visit our license page.

Useful pages

The people behind Public Lab

Public Lab is a worldwide community that is open for all to join, supported by a team of nonprofit staff, board of directors, and fellows.


The best way to get in touch is by emailing our team at If you are trying to reach a particular staff member, please visit the Public Lab Nonprofit Staff page.

We receive mail at: 44 Court St., Suite 1217 PMB 93541, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Voicemail Only Phone Number: 504-358-0647

Kits store

If you need assistance with a kit purchase, please email

Website assistance

Visit our issues page to report bugs, make feature requests, or check site performance.