Citizen Scientists - Carnegie Mellon and the G-20 - Carnegie Mellon University

Monday, August 3, 2009

Citizen Scientists

Carnegie Mellon's new Living Environments Lab, directed by Eric Paulos, is working to equip everyday cell phones with sensors capable of detecting a variety of environmental measurements, like carbon monoxide, ozone, particulate matter, or pollen counts. The data would then be uploaded and aggregated for sharing. Paulos envisions a new generation of 'citizen scientists,' connected both to the environment and each other.

"You have mobile technology with you all the time," Paulos explained. "What happens if that device is not just a communication tool but a measurement instrument? We're looking at things that touch on connecting people with the environment, with human health, and with issues of community."

The benefits of 'citizen science' technology can be as simple as acquainting average folks with the science of the world around us, or as practical as gathering richer data sets for use by professional scientists.

They can be personal, allowing parents to analyze a local industrial plant's effect on the neighborhood school's air quality, or world-changing, increasing concern for our environment and encouraging societal level calls to action.

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