If the concern in the US about radiation from the Fukushima power plant is at all valid, then imagine how critical it is for the 130 million people living in Japan at the moment. At least - you no doubt believe - such a technologically advanced nation with such a dense population and 55 operating nuclear reactors, must have their radiation monitoring under control.
But you'd be wrong.
According to Marcelino Alvarez, founder of Safecast, "there are many holes
where no data is being captured whatsoever."
Which is why Alvarez set up Safecast, "to provide an aggregate feed of nuclear
radiation data from governmental, non-governmental and citizen-scientist
sources." One problem at the moment is that much of the information is out there, but making sense of it is a lot of work.
Radiation readings in JapanNow, having resolved the problem of information integration, the Safecast team has identified dozens of monitoring 'holes', which are denoted in indigo as 'Safecast Submissions' on the map to the left. As you can see, these are concentrated to the north and south of Fukushima Prefecture, so are quite vital omissions.
To resolve this issue, Safecast want to deploy up to 600 more Geiger Counter devices in Japan. At around $300 a pop, plus the expense of deploying them, this is quite an investment.
And that's where you come in.
Safecast have launched a Kickstarter project, aiming to raise at least $33,000 to help pay for these. And if you pledge $1,000 or more, you'll get your very own iGeigie radiation detection sensor (pictured above), so you can see for yourself whether there really is anything to worry about outside of Japan. And if there is, you'll most certainly know that your money was well spent.
Here are Alvarez and his colleagues explaining the project: