Help me help Safecast help people in Japan

This morning, my friend Sean Bonner e-mailed me this:

As you may or may not know I’ve spent the vast majority of the last month either in Tokyo or working with people in Japan on project I helped start called Safecast. Actually we just changed the name to Safecast, until last week it was called RDTN. We realized that the only information on radiation levels was coming from groups we couldn’t really trust, and decided we could do something better. Safecast has a goal of distributing geiger counters to people in Japan and creating an open data sensor network so anyone can access the information we gather with these devices. We’re also collecting data ourselves – if you have a few moments and want to read this post it’s a great example of what we’re doing right this second.

If you don’t have a few moments I’ll sum it up for you – we drove up to Fukushima and took readings at schools that are in the “safe” zone. At one of those schools we measured over 50 µSv/hr outside on a playground. To put that in perspective outside today in Los Angeles I measured 0.072 µSv/hr. We also gave some counters to volunteers in the area who will take readings and report back to us, and measured over 5000 different points during the trip. We hope to do this on a regular basis.

Anyway, what I’m asking for your help with is this:

We have a kickstarter and are more than halfway to our goal, but only have 11 days left to hit that mark. While donations are helpful, what we really need is awareness. We need more people to know about what we’re doing, we need more people to know they can help.

I’ve known Sean for almost 12 years, and even though he does amazing things all the time, he never sends out e-mails like this. This is something Sean cares deeply about, and I want to help him however I can, starting with my blog, my Twitter, and my Tumblr.

I keep hearing from people that I have all this influence, people listen to me, I have lots of Twitter followers and blog readers blah blah blah. I think it’s way overestimated … but I’d love to get this project funded and find out that I actually do have a voice that occasionally rises above the background noise.

If you are comfortable with it, please help me give this a signal boost and tell your friends,  tell Reddit, tell your eccentric millionaire uncle who likes to fund projects … you get the idea.

Thank you.

18 thoughts on “Help me help Safecast help people in Japan”

  1. My friend Charlie Luque is a english teacher in Japan and was just outside of the earthquake/tsunami zone, and he has been working very hard to get teachers to work.. He told me that there was over 127 teachers displaced by the tsunami. I commend your friend for doing this work.. I am sure that my friend could use that data to help his teachers out.

  2. One more piping in to say that you got me to donate.
    You might not have the same sort of reach as some mega-celebrity, but I think you’ve got more (or at least better) influence. If nothing else, you use it for a lot of good projects.

  3. To put it in a couple of other perspectives:
    100 mSv is the lowest yearly dose clearly shown to increase cancer risk (that’s received in 83 days at 50 µSv/h).
    50 mSv/Year is the maximum EPA allowed dose for radiation workers in a non-emergency situation (that’d be received in 41 days at 50 µSv/h).
    ~3.65 mSv/Year is the average radiation from natural (85%) and medical (15%) sources for normal people (that’d be received in 3 days at 50 µSv/h).
    Yes it’s a vitally good idea to get tools for measurements out in the field, but it’s just as vitally important that they are used by someone who actually knows what the numbers mean, instead of people who are going to panic if the needle moves above 0.

  4. It’s not the size of your reach that counts it’s how you use it! :)
    (And you, sir, use your phenomenal reach correctly. We know that when you ask your Monkeys to help with something it is because you REALLY care about that something and that makes us happy to jump in and help out!)

  5. I clicked the link to the blog and it took a second to load; for a moment I thought it had gone down so I started to write a comment suggesting that you put a link straight to the Kickstarter page in your post. It did load, so all is fine, but it might be worth putting the direct link in there alongside the blog links anyway, to ease potential bandwidth surges?

  6. I’ve pledged and gone and blogged about the project trying to get just a bit more awareness out there. Thank you Wil for pointing us towards this project!

  7. This is really good of your friend but I agree with Henrikoolsen. Without comparisons to understand, these numbers would just confuse and cause panic. I live within the earthquake zone, spent hours outside with my Japanese community during March 11th’s M9. I live in Ibaraki prefecture while my brother-in-law lives to the north of us in Fukushima, just outside evacuation zone of the Nuclear Plant. Many people here already have a great information sources, trustworthy sources, to turn to for radiation information. All city halls have their own Geiger counters. Even my son’s yochien (aka kindergarten) has it own counter which they post daily readings on their blog). Though it is nice that people all have their own, the information is out there on the appropriate sites. I also live next to Tsukuba City, the Science city of Japan where all the leading scientists live. They have been very very good at providing data concerning daily radiation readings. Though your friend’s goal is very generous I think he should fully research the the prefectures involved more thoroughly on what data is available. I think there are better ways to help those in Fukushima.

  8. There is a company (I guess you’d call it’s one guy) in existance with a similar concept (radiation readings from private individuals instead of government sources)…and software available to link to their network which displays those readings in realtime on their website for the whole world to access. Perhaps Safecast might collaborate with them since the infrastructure is already in place? They have several monitoring stations already in place in Japan…

  9. I am glad that you and your friend are trying to do good things for the people of Japan that have been devastated by this tragedy. You do indeed have a voice. You should, however, as Henrikoolsen and Fushigifox have previously stated ensure that the people that are getting this information know what it means. There are already too many people who are ignorant of the physics of radiation that try to use any statistic they can get their hands on to push their own agenda. I hope that your friend is able to help without being exploited.

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