Hacking geigers: Safecast crowdsources radiation data in Japan after Fukushima disaster

Watch Online "Hacker" Group Crowdsources Radiation Data for Japanese Public on PBS. See more from PBS NEWSHOUR.

On PBS NewsHour tonight, a report I helped the program's science correspondent Miles O'Brien produce about the challenge people in Japan face of finding and sharing reliable data about radiation contamination, after the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Embedded above, a conversation between Miles and NewsHour host Hari Sreenivasan about our report, which focuses on a grassroots group called Safecast that measures, maps, and publishes data on radiation contamination levels throughout the country.

While in Tokyo, Miles spoke to Hari Sreenivasan about his trip with Safecast workers into the voluntary exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where they detected levels reaching the equivalent of six X-rays per day.

He also filled us in on his conversations with Japanese officials working in evacuated areas and Japanese residents eager for more information about the consequences of the nuclear accident.

I'll post the video for the full feature when it's available online.


  1. Excellent report…a friend down here in southern Japan is part of the network, but fortunately we’ve had normal readings since the beginning. Now if only we could trust the food testing, what little there is of it. That’s something a LOT harder for amateurs to effectively do.

  2. sure thing appreciate this, as I checked it and others to see the danger level when I went to Sendai in October. Most Japanese have no confidence in the information or disinformation they’ve been given. Eery place in the north with life appearing normal in Sendai, except for the constant ambulances and knowledge that down the road my family pass thousands of neighbors’ destroyed places every day.

  3. I like that they have spelled out their methodology, tools, limitations and so on. Those details are important in data collection which is something political agenda groups fail to grasp.
    I would like to see just plain spreadsheets of the data as well as the pretty graphics and maps; makes cross referencing against the MEXT reports much easier.

  4. It looks like the Safecast guys are doing a good job of gathering data in as reliable and scientific a way as possible, and sharing that data in a responsible and effective way. This is exactly the kind of balanced science based reporting that those of us who live in effected area need to be seeing so that we can make informed decisions.

    Well done Safecast, and thanks for sharing, Xeni. Cheers dudes.

  5. I remember a similar citizen radiation collection effort in the UK in the early 1990s. I remember the setup being rather expensive (Porton Down-quality anemometer, calibrated GM tube; all well over £1000), but it dialled in radiation data to a central computer over a Prestel modem. Wish I could remember the project’s name. We were very jumpy about radiation in the UK after Chernobyl.

  6. it is interesting that as all i see on the tv is the republican debate, the big stories fall to the wayside without some sort of update.  what is the status of haiti? or thailand? or japan for that matter?  i like this alternative news updates you are bringing into the fold.

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