Wary Online Users Create Their Own Map of Japan's Radiation Levels
Mistrust about conflicting reports of radiation levels in the aftermath of Japan's nuclear disaster has led to a crowd-sourced map of Geiger counter readings. That points to a 21st-century reality where the public, armed with sensors and online cooperation, no longer need to rely solely upon the pacifying words of corporate and government spokespersons.
The map not only shows the geographical location of each reading, but also color codes them to indicate where radiation readings exceed the levels recommended for public spaces by the Japanese government.
Such a crowd-sourcing idea was born from disgruntled discussions on the social networking service Twitter, and took shape on the developer community site Pachube. Its inception has earned both notice and praise from the likes of Alexis Madrigal, a senior editor at The Atlantic and former writer for Wired.
"It's one thing to blindly trust the experts," Madrigal said. "It's quite another to double-check them with a distributed network of 215 Geiger counters forcing them to earn that trust."
That number of Geiger counter readings had been upped to 218 as of the time this story was written. Even after the radiation concerns in Japan have subsided, the map effort bodes well for providing alternative sources of information about future events in which nuclear power goes awry.
Check out the latest map at this all-too-apt URL: http://japan.failedrobot.com/.