Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science: Open-Source Development of Tools for Grassroots Science – Sahnnon Dosemagen and Sara Wylie

Friday 17th February

Speakers: Sahnnon Dosemagen and Sara Wylie

Theme: Science by citizens


Grassroots science is science and social movement done by people outside the mainstream of professional science, by using systematic knowledge and standard procedures with less expensive equipments. Grassroots science includes research by citizens as well as professional scientists, so there are no boundaries for embedding scientific knowledge into everyday life, after all.

The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (PLOTS) is a community which develops and applies open-source tools and low-cost “Do-It-Yourself” techniques to environmental exploration and investigation based on the Grassroots philosophy.

They already showed us how to do balloon mapping at UCL on Tuesday (you can see the balloon in G04 in the Chadwick building), and there will be a workshop about thermal flashlight using Arduino tomorrow 11.40 am by Shannon Dosemagen and Sara Wylie. We will see how it’s done.

During the talk, Shannon and Sara presented existing problems with environmental science and health research, and their approach (civic science approach) to solve the problems.

Problems with environmental science and health research
. expensive
. limited to expert hands.
. lag in knowledge between experts and people on the ground
. people on the ground don’t  own the data, and don’t understand how it is made
. industry has far greater capacity to generate data

Civic science approach to environmental health monitoring
. community oriented and developed
. community owned
. tools  can be adapted and spread as an open source approach

They already have lots of DIY tools for the civic science approach, and there are three levels of program tracks using different data and different devices for different purposes, which are health homes, community science, and sustainable futures.

Let’s check their DIY tools here.

  • Balloon and kite mapping  – see a number of different results from the archive, can be used for environmental monitoring and protest/occupy mapping
  • Near infra-red camera
  • Thermal photography
  • Indoor air-quality mapping
  • Spectrometer
  • Hydrogen sulfide sensing
  • Environmental estrogen testing

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