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Sensors, Uncensored: Using Sensors to Enrich Storytelling
As the digital landscape evolves, sensors are bridging the virtual world with the physical world and opening the door to a whole new kind of storytelling. While still nascent in practice, a trend called “sensor journalism” is growing as journalists experiment with new technology and tools to gather information and expand on knowledge about environmental factors like air quality, water quality, and even urban sound design.
The emergence of sensor journalism is an opportunity to cultivate a culture of experimentation, engage new audiences, build communities within crowdsourcing, and democratize the storytelling process.
Talk to me about remote + networked sensor technology, journalism, citizen science, or burritos. In no particular order. ;)
Session Hashtag: #OKFestSensorJ
View the session slides here:
Links to follow:
https://medium.com/@dangerbui/ (frequent personal blog posts about sensor journalism)
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/sensor-journalism (google group for sensor journalism discussion -- direct result of OKFest!)
Suggested session format:
Presentation (15 mins)
Q&A (10 mins)
Thought experiment (25 mins)
Group summaries (10 mins)
Additional questions after the session:
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SCENARIOS FOR BREAKOUT SESSIONS:
Your city Dendropolis was once known for its abundant and lush forest. Over time, a company called TIMBER, INC. began to cut down the trees for paper production, construction materials, etc. Now, there is very little forest left. Recently, a law was passed to restrict deforestation in Zone X. However, an anonymous source leaves you a tip that TIMBER, INC. is secretly still cutting down trees in Zone X. So far, there is no way to prove this. How could you use sensors to monitor this kind of activity. What kind of sensors are they? How would you collect the data? How would you use the data to tell a story? Would the story be a video, podcast, newspaper article, blog post, phone app, game, etc.?
This group thought of creating a visible border around the protected area/trees, so if the border was breached, then an alert would be sent off. Another idea was to place noise sensors in the area so that if the sound of a chainsaw was heart, alerts would be sent.
This actually resembles the project called Rainforest Connection: http://www.rfcx.org
You are part of a research group that has designed an open source sensor which vibrates a few hours before earthquakes. This technology could possibly work as an early warning system for people who live in areas that are at risk for earthquakes. However, the technology is useless unless the information it provides reaches people who need it. Design a plan for action that includes media outreach. How will you spread the word and make this sensor available to as many people who need it as possible? How will you teach people how to use it? How would you use the data to tell a story? Would the story be a video, podcast, newspaper article, blog post, phone app, game, etc.?
This group came up with a plan of action for deploying the sensor. Below are their notes, from a paper pad they used during the session.
Open source sensor
- How do we get it to potential earthquake zones?
- How do we get information/alerts from teh sensor to the local people?
- What kind of information?
Installing the sensor in earthquake zones
- Contact local communities, NGOs with distribution netwroks
- Install in public buildings
- Meetings in local community
- Fire departments, first-responders
- Local radio stations + TV
Alerts to local community
- Local radio + TV
- Broadcast SMS alerts
This is similar to the Quake Catcher Network: http://qcnetwork.com
- Tie into ushahidi to collect data from the ground
Identify an issue that you can help track using smart phone sensors. What is the best way to report the data you collect -- an app, game, etc.? After the data is collected, how can you convey it in a way that will make sense to people that the issue affects?
Sensors identified: GPS, microphone, accelerometer, gyroscope, battery/ambient temperature, barometer, bluetooth, light
Inspired by a group member from the Sahara, this group designed an app meant for parents concerned about air quality while their children play outside. With this app, parents can submit a photo of air quality/conditions to an app, which will be aggregated.
Possible problems/risks with sensorjournalism
- limited representativeness (only rich people can afford, only interested ones will install, it can lead to a wrong interpretation of the data)
- transparency/privacy (People are not aware of what they give away)
- quality of the collected data (calibration)
- sampling, distribute everything
- who is capable of starting sensorjournalism
- journalism only takes the critical mass
- easyness of deployment
- working with unreliable data