Public Lab: DIY mapping tools

A community, which develops and applies open-source tools for environmental investigation.

The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (or 'Public Lab' for short) is a community, which develops and applies open-source tools for environmental exploration and investigation. They aim to democratise inexpensive and accessible Do-It-Yourself (DIY) techniques, to help practitioners re-imagine the human relationship with the environment. 

The concept is in essence pretty simple, but the impact impressive. Exposing the Invisible film protagonist Hagit used resources such as Public Lab's balloon and kite mapping kit to assemble her own balloon and create aerial photography of East Jerusalem, skirting the resolution limitations of Google Earth imagery of Israel. Using cheap, everyday materials such as a point-and-shoot camera, a weather balloon, string, rubber bands and plastic bottles, kite mapping can produce time sensitive, high resolution imagery from all sorts of locations - allowing for an alternative, community-based definition of a territory. 

Public Lab itself began mapping following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. For a whirlwind introduction to their work, watch Public Lab in 30 seconds

First published on October 14, 2015

Last updated on July 30, 2020

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