PigeonBlog, pigeons enabled pollution data network

PigeonBlog, Beatriz da Costa, pigeon_blog.jpg

One of the most interesting projects that combined science, environmental awareness and art was PigeonBlog, by Beatriz da Costa, with Cina Hazegh and Kevin Ponto. It was based on equipping pigeons with combined GPS and GSM openplatform phones, interfaced with CO/NOx pollution sensors. The resulting data (retrieved on the ground and up to 90 meters altitude) is then mapped on a Google-based tool. Inspired by pigeons with mechanical cameras, expected to be used as spies during the early 20th century wars, this project uses a typical surveillance model: using apparently neutral elements (the birds) as nodes of data-retrieving network, finally turning them into a “grassroots scientific data gathering initiative.” One of the projects goals is to raise public awareness about the invisible but very dangerous air pollution, typically affecting suburbs, and prototyping at the same time a new, independent and potentially popular method of self-checking important data on our urban neighborhood. Furthermore the project is based on the sharing of knowledge through a generated mapping process. This hybrid swarm obtained data enables people to take part (without institutional intermediaries) into the protection of environmental resources, and the used open tool is able to effectively monitor one of the most valuable commons we have. Definitively this is a must in the out-of-the-screen open source philosophy.