Should All Environmental Technology be Open Source like AirBeam?
Dec 31 2014
Environmental monitoring is not exactly a new idea, having been around for several decades as we become more cognisant of the need to care for our environment, and, in particular, the air that we breathe. But though it’s not new, it has gained traction over the last few years, with technology advancing at an impressive rate and monitoring becoming more and more commonplace.
However, this technology has traditionally been closed to the general public. It has been in the hands of institutions and corporations, who manufacture, distribute and observe the monitors themselves. Now, all of that may be about to change.
Signal Group, AirBeam and Open Source Technology
Especially when it comes to monitoring air quality, it makes sense that such sensors and information should be available to all of us, since we are all directly affected by the air we breathe. This idea is already becoming more popular in a workplace environment, where toxic or flammable air can lead to disaster. This article, A New Concept in Gas Analyser Operation, talks about some of the recent developments in this sphere from an industry perspective, with the Signal Group paving the way for future innovations.
Outside of the workplace, air quality is just as important, however. This is why the Brooklyn-based group HabitMap has sought to take open source environmental technology out of the factory and onto the streets.
Having gone through six prototypes and received significant crowdfunding from Kickstarter, HabitMap have developed AirBeam, an open source tool which can be used by anyone to collect and transmit information about the quality of air in their area. Accompanying the monitors (the majority of which have been built by the users personally, although HabitMap is hoping to mass-produce them in the near future), there are also the AirCasting LiteBeam and the Luminescent Vest. All of this is controlled and easily viewable by the AirCasting app, available on Android and already downloaded more than 10,000 times.
The Advantages of Open Source Technology
With monitoring now in the hands of the masses, there is, of course, a much wider range that is able to be accessed. Traditional governmental or corporate equipment has been expensive to manufacture and consequenlty scarce and incomprehensive. By having everyday people like you and I carrying monitors with them as they go about their daily business, we will be able to gain a much better and much more comprehensive overall view of the air we breathe on a daily basis.
Furthermore, the availability of the information on the AirCasting app means that everyone has access to the data, not only those who are monitoring. This proliferation of air quality data can only be a good thing as we seek to change our world for the better, and companies like the Signal Group and HabitMap are taking the first vital steps in achieving a safer, cleaner tomorrow.
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