Seven years ago, during an environmental crisis—the BP oil disaster—and a media blackout, where information about the spill was being tightly controlled, hundreds of people came together to collect their own data. Using just cameras, attached to balloons or kites, the Balloon Mapping Kit was born, and with it, the Public Lab community.
7 years after "grassroots mapping", Public Lab is back with an even more accessible Do-It-Yourself way to take aerial photos: Mini Balloon and Kite Mapping Kits.
At half the cost of the original, these kits are designed for portability and for a new generation of smaller GoPro-like cameras. The new Kite kit makes use of an extremely compact (but octopus-shaped) kite with no spars.
Hundreds of people have contributed to this open source project: https://publiclab.org/n/14561
Sincethe BP oil disaster,thousands of people have balloon mapped, and joined the Public Lab network—tackling new environmental problems, working together, and trying new things. Our goal is to greatly expand our worldwide community of people who are equipped, practiced, and ready to document environmental threats, damage, and remediation efforts.
Our new Mini Balloon and Mini Kite Kits are Prototyping Kits, meaning that there are lots of unresolved questions about how best to use them, and we're looking to you all to identify, prototype, discuss, and solve these issues. If we can get this new generation of smaller, lighter, cheaper, and easier aerial photography kits debugged and ready for anyone to use, our community can reach thousands of new people.
Are squid-shaped kites and balloons the drone alternative?
With drones limited to 400ft and with limited payloads, many are turning to an older technique—kite photography. The Public Lab open source community has announced new kits with spar-less squid-shaped kites—along with helium balloons for carrying heavier loads and flying in places where drones can't go.
What will you balloon map?
This isn't a typical Kickstarter. Public Lab has run four of these open source campaigns, where folks are asked to pitch in to solve problems, teach one another, and take the kit of parts to new places. That kind of radical cooperation is how Public Lab started, and that's why this project has gone in such a unique direction over the years.
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