OpenBag: Liz Barry & The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science

Liz Barry from Public Laboratory PLOTS stopped by OpenBag on August 11 to keep us in the know of what the Public Laboratory is up to these days. And by up, we mean up – as balloon mapping and photo-documentation takes up alot of their time.

Using inexpensive DIY techniques, the Public Laboratory seeks to change how people see the world in environmental, social, and political terms. They are activists, educators, technologists, and community organizers interested in new ways to promote action, intervention, and awareness through a participatory research model.  This community began as the Grassroots Mapping project, an effort to produce Do-It-Yourself satellite imagery with balloons and kites, most notably during the 2010 BP oil spill.  PLOTS informs users how to create DIY Ballon Mapping kits made from inexpensive parts. These kits transmit photos and plotting software stitches them into satelite imagery.

Analysis of environmental and social issues is taking place by PLOT participants at places like the Gowanus Canal in NYC, Hydro-fraking sites in Upstate NY, political marches and protests in Jerusalem and Peru, and the Gulf Oil spill. The analysis of chemical concentrations in the air, the procession of strip-mining and deforestation, the movement of groups of people, the amount of vegetation over many seasons are possible using this technique.  This data – small scale at some instances, more pro than professional in others – has been used by variety of users for impactful means.  Its filling a gap that statellite imagery colelcted by goverment agencies and contractors haven’t or won’t fill.  PLOTS is allowing people to collect data and imaging several layers (as in thousands of feet) closer to the source than what was previously available.

PLOTS members have assembles mounds of data thats never been assembled for – and its for you to add, take and deploy in new ways.  Learn more about PLOTS’ community here, here and here.

Also – Congrats to PLOTS on their Knight Foundation Grant!