Citizen scientists, traffic monitors and more
May 10th, 2009

phones

A Nature News article reports that far from being just an accessory, mobile phones are starting to be used to collect data in an increasing number of disciplines. The report highlights projects in scientific data collection, vehicle traffic monitoring, medical imaging and other areas. The author, Robert Kwok closes with a review of some of the difficulties in the emerging use of citizen data collection and concludes:

Despite the challenges, researchers are excited about the possibilities of a planet-wide network of these miniature travelling computers. About 85% of the world’s population has access to a mobile signal, says Susan Teltscher, head of the Market Information and Statistics Division at the International Telecommunication Union, and there is still a “huge potential” for more growth. Jacobson envisions that as sensors continue to drop in size, phones could boast even more sophisticated features.

Although mobile phones will not replace traditional scientific instruments, says Estrin, they make up in availability for what they lack in finesse. “If you can’t go to the field with the sensor you want,” she says, “go with the sensor you have.”

Kudos to NatureNews for offering this article, including a PDF version, at no cost to the internet public.


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