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Science and technology will be at the heart of the innovation that secures the future of our planet and its people. Without global advancement, scientists predict that ocean acidification and high greenhouse gas emissions will rapidly and significantly alter the ecosystems and food webs on which we depend. Weather will get warmer and more severe, and studies suggest that, by 2050, climate-driven events will make cities uninhabitable for as many as 200 million people who will need to migrate to survive. Species will not be able to adapt and extinction rates will rise. Without easily accessible science information, these rapidly-changing conditions cannot be monitored effectively and solutions may not be found before it’s too late.
For the last century, science and technology has been the engine of global economic growth. Now, we will also depend on it to save our planet and its people. In developed countries, science and technology are omnipresent, widely adopted, and accessible. For example, in the U.S., science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs have outpaced other industries for more than 40 years and leading technology and science companies are often challenged to fill the jobs to meet growing demand. In contrast, developing countries still lag far behind the developed world, both in leveraging innovative technology developed elsewhere, and in fostering the institutions that can support advancing technology in-country. Without strong science and technology-based economies, the developing world lacks the knowledge, systems, and tools that can drive many aspects of social and economic development in critical areas like agriculture, health care, infrastructure, communications, and climate resilience.
What can be done?
There is an urgent need for development of low-cost and highly reliable scientific and research monitoring technology that can make data readily available anywhere in the world. By easing access to data collection and analysis tools, real-world applications of new ideas can be developed cost-effectively and rapidly and can accelerate planet- and people-saving advances.
How FieldKit is meeting the challenge:
FieldKit is an open-source software and hardware platform that allows individuals and organizations to collect and share field-based research data, and to tell stories through interactive visualizations. It bridges the gap between hard science and storytelling, by combining the analysis features of open science frameworks with the public-facing storytelling features of data visualization and map-based interactive platforms. The scientific community, students and educators, conservation and wildlife NGOs, citizen scientists, environmental activists, and science communicators can all benefit from FieldKit. The platform is currently under development and includes:
* FieldKit Hardware: microcontroller-based open source sensor kits equipped with SD card slot, GPS, wifi, and sensor-to-sensor radios.
* FieldKit.org website (modular database software for collection, storage, visualization, and sharing of research data)
* FieldKit App: Android/iOS app that connect to fieldkit.org and allows for sensor configuration, data download, and photos/videos/recordings from the field.
* FieldKit Naturalist: A handheld unit that gather high fidelity environmental metadata (temp, humidity, light level, noise level, dew point, altitude, etc) as the student/scientist/explorer is walking around.