Thanks to a tip off from @hugh_knowles of Forum For The Future we’ve been looking at the intriguingly named Black Cloud Citizen Scientist League, which examines pollution through collecting a variety of data. We’ve learned from the Citizen Sensing blog that the project is headed by Berkeley Art Studio Professor Greg Niemeyer. He has designed a small box called ‘PuffTron’ that measures CO2, volatile organic compounds, light, noise, heat and damp.
Aimed at measuring pollution and visualising levels of data, the twenty five eyes of the character on the box light up in varying colours to display levels of the elements. As Citizen Sensing explain, “a server collects the data and delivers interesting visualizations to the web site.” Based on a myth of the ‘black cloud‘ Niemeyer and his colleagues believe this tool encourages conversation around pollution and how we are involved.
‘PuffTrons’ were distributed in local communities in the San Francisco area, where local businesses and school children collected some surprising results, including high levels of CO2 in classrooms even before school, which could unknowingly cause sleepiness and headaches.
Below is a short KCET video on the project which very enthusiastically describes the process of how the PuffTron works and its effect on people.
Worth a watch!
We think this project is relevant to the current issue of London Air Quality for the 2012 Olympics, and could be a great way to encourage people to make changes through tracking their own data. Certainly the list of schools close to main roads, recently published by Campaign for Clean Air in London, could find them very useful for measuring pollution levels in their buildings and playgrounds.