Safecast’s open-source geiger counters
In 2011, an earthquake-triggered tsunami resulted in a nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan. Geiger counters, devices used to measure radiation levels, were in high demand. A global shortage led to soaring prices.
Local citizen scientists created what is now known as Safecast, a community-led initiative to collect and pool data using open-source, networked geiger counters. These counters provide regularly updated, publicly available data on radiation levels around Fukushima.
Safecast’s data helped prove that the fallout from Fukushima didn’t follow a linear graph, and moving farther away from the plant didn’t necessarily make people safer. The project has produced over 120 million data points as of March 2019 — and by making that data available to everyone, Safecast has contributed to public safety knowledge and helped restore public trust. Safecast has now expanded its efforts to focus on other environmental crises. In 2017, the group introduced Solarcast, a small device that measures air quality.