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Things have been crazy in Tokyo Hackerspace recently. There are tons of projects going on simultaneously and everyone is buzzing about. We've been hosting a lot of guest speakers at the hackerspace as well to provide updates on what's going on, what they're up to, and to provide information about the recent events.
There were quite a few very interesting discussions. One of them was a project called Relief 2.0 which is trying to create a new model for disaster relief and support. One of the main problems they're seeing is that the disaster survivors in the shelters are painted as helpless victims in the media. However these people are anything but helpless and many were teachers, office workers, and business owners before the earthquake and tsunami.
When they were working on relief in Haiti, they noticed that treating survivors as helpless victims creates a dependency on relief services and actually hinders the recovery of the affected areas. He mentioned that one year after Haiti, there was still little improvement and rebuilding. Their model is to try and help repair small businesses by pairing up shop owners with people in identical industries in non-disaster areas. By having businesses work together and rebuilding small business economy locally, they're hoping that they can establish a base where the local people can help other local people get their feet back on the ground and rebuild the cities.
There was also another very interesting discussion by the guys from Global DIRT who are investigating the Fukushima evacuation zone with radiation spectrometers. Their findings were disturbing and they were seeing all types of radionuclides scattered both inside and outside of the evacuation zone. Both Safecast and Tokyo Hackerspace are currently working with them and we're helping them map the radionuclide isotopes from the data they logged on their spectrometers. Once the data is finished being processed and uploaded, we'll be displaying it on the Safecast map and also providing it in a standardized format. You can view some of their preliminary results here:
Safecast (formerly RDTN) is another interesting project that is trying to create nodes across Japan to map the radiation levels independently. We've been actively involved with Safecast and in working on the project, have learned much more about radiation then we've ever thought. The deeper you get into radiation mapping and detection, the freakier it becomes and the more questions it raises about what the real situation is near Fukushima. Although air levels are relatively safe, we've been seeing high radiological readings on the ground and on surfaces. The problems are especially bad where dust and dirt accumulate and fallout gets concentrated. As an example, on one of the trips up to Koriyama in Fukushima prefecture, about 60 km from the nuclear plant, the volunteers saw 50 uSv/hr on a concrete wall in a kindergarten playground. You can read more about it on the blog post here. In any case, that was seriously disturbing and one of the goals of Safecast is to provide independent radiation readings to the public with all the data being open and downloadable. It's still in its early stages, but the project looks like it has a lot of promise.
There are actually many more things going on, and there are too many to name. You can see the full list of projects here. Now that we're starting to catch our breath, we're hoping to start providing updates on them on a regular basis.
Thank you to everyone that donated and also supported us during that difficult time. Now that we're back on our feet, we're in full gear and hacking away like crazy :)
Here are some pics of some of the speakers:
Safecast/RDTN meeting with Tokyo Hackerspace and Keio University
Carlos Miranda Levy talking about Relief 2.0 and how the current relief model is turning survivors into refugees
Brendan from Global DIRT talking about the work that they're doing in Fukushima and they're experiences in Christchurch, New Zealand
Kalin from Tokyo Hackerspace with the Safecast gamma spectrometer and geiger counter. He's become quite an expert at operating the spectrometer and processing the data. (below)