The Public Lab nonprofit is excited to announce that we’ve received a two-year grant from the 11th Hour Project, a program of the Schmidt Family Foundation.
With support from the 11th Hour Project, Public Lab will draw on its experience to create a community based program to engage residents of areas impacted by particulate matter (PM) monitoring related to frac sand mining. Public Lab will take a strategy that mixes traditional community awareness-raising and social mapping with community-driven technology development assisted by our staff. This combined online and offline strategy, including in-person meetings, large paper maps, online collaboration, laboratory testing, and DIY tool development will catalyze community action while leveraging Public Lab’s global technical community to address a problem as defined by locals.
This community-centric monitoring approach will complement ongoing work on this issue by research institutions, as well as the political advocacy of nonprofits and grassroots organizations, through the creation of a participatory monitoring program on PM exposure. Ideally, community impacts may range from increased local or national awareness of contamination issues and greater confidence in data collection and problem identification among local collaborators to closer regulatory oversight of polluters or better-informed cleanup plans.
This pilot project sets the stage for more advanced goals, including focused iterative hardware development, design and deployment of a web-based data management, analysis, and advocacy platform similar to Public Lab’s SpectralWorkbench.org, and eventual extensive field testing and revision. Towards these goals, future work will include a series of hardware and methodology-focused working meet-ups, involving both local collaborators and invited professional scientists, as well as identification of pilot sites for testing of prototypes, development of printed and online materials describing the construction of potential tools, and activities based on the template provided by other Public Lab projects.