The bGeigie Diaries: Mapping from New Delhi to ‘Little Lhasa’

Savina Singla and her bGeigie in Italy

Data collector: Savina Singla

Data locations: Kolkata, New Delhi, North West India, area up towards McLeod Ganj, known as ‘Little Lhasa’

What’s the last data you recorded with a bGeigie?

I went to Kolkata in West Bengal recently where I collected radiation data. It was very smooth. It was the first time I tried collecting the data in an airplane, and we were all shocked to see the readings going beyond 400 CPM when on ground they are generally maximally 30 or 40. I collected data while crossing the famous Howrah Bridge, on the water while going on a boat and around most of the major attractions like Victoria Memorial, Belur Math, Dakshineswar Kali Temple, Science City, IIM Calcutta, etc.

Savina and bGeigie in Kolkata

How did you get interested in Safecast?

I have been interested in collecting data about India, which is one of the things that got me interested in Safecast.

I am a PhD Scholar at PEC University of Technology, Chandigarh, India, working on Air Quality Monitoring.

I am also working on Crowd sourced solutions, and my focus interest is on measuring the concentration of certain pollutants, like PM2.5, CO etc., in the air and measuring their health impacts on individuals. During my work, I realized that radiation is also something that needs to be considered when working on health impacts of air pollution.

I applied for the workshop in Italy in March 2017, organized by ICTP, IAEA and Safecast, and fortunately was selected to attend. During the workshop we built our own bGeigies, and I’ve been collecting data with it since then.

Savina and fellow workshop attendees strike a pose in Italy

Part of my motivation for collecting data is helping to provide citizens the possibility to see the data of their own localities and areas. My goal and hope is that we over time will be able to cover my whole country and see all the routes on the map.

What got you interested in collecting radiation measurements?

The availability of base data on a national level, which can be used for comparison in the event of critical conditions or accidents, has been a driving factor. I also think that it’s interesting to collect radiation data in a country like India, where some people are not aware of radiation issues. This could be connected with difficulties with circulating radiation information, as there’s a definite interest. The bGeigie and our measurements attract people and there is great interest when we show the radiation measurements.

What are some of the trips you have taken with the bGeigie?

Savina and her bGeigie hit the streets of India

I have collected data in the cities, cosmic: in an airplane, on hill stations and many other places. Wherever I go, I carry my bGeigie with me and collect data. This has included in New Delhi, Chandigarh, Jalandhar and on a trip to the mountainous region in the north of India, as well as the recent data collected from Kolkata in West Bengal

I’ve used the bGeigie hanging out of a car window while driving, when bicycling, when walking and on airplanes. At the moment, there are no specific strategies that I follow, apart from logging wherever I go.

The bGeigie is easy to take everywhere, including family outings to the park.

What has the reaction been from people you’ve encountered on the data gathering trips?

Small children are especially curious in the device and readings. The adults have a similar interest, but are generally more interested in knowing what the safe limits are for radiation, how the readings in their area compare to the safe limits, what possible ill-effects there might be from radiation exposure, etc.

People on airplanes have generally been a bit more shocked because of the high readings.

However, I want to add that all of the trips have gone really well and I have had great response from the people I meet. You could say that carrying a bGeigie makes you more attractive 😉

How about any tips and tricks?

One tip would be to engage people about what you’re doing. I create interest among people around me and explain them how the bGeigie works, as well as about radiation.

Also, engage with friends, family and colleagues. They can help you by agreeing to take the bGeigie with them and make readings whenever they go to some interesting place for a trip. I like to cover as much ground as possible, and giving your bGeigie to friends can help you get readings of many areas where you might not get to.

The bGeigie Diaries is a series of articles aimed at sharing some of the amazing work and data collection carried out by Safecast volunteers across the globe. The articles will hopefully serve as inspiration, a way of sharing knowledge and inspiration about bGeigies and citizen science.

About the Author

Marc Prosser

Marc is British, Danish, Geekish, Bookish, Sportish, and loves anything in the world that goes 'booiingg'. He is a freelance journalist and researcher living in Tokyo and writes about all things science and tech. He started volunteering for Safecast after writing articles about their work following the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami - and because he believes that data and technology should be open and readily available.