Public Lab works to "level the data playing field,” making it possible for people to issue rigorously collected, high-quality, local environmental datasets for use alongside government data for verification and advocacy. We do this by building curriculum, hardware, and software; providing space for research and development; and bringing tools to maturity, making them field ready. The Kits Initiative is part of this effort.
The Kits Initiative creates, assembles, and distributes kits from the open research designs of the Public Lab community to foster and develop the reach of open, accessible science, by placing tools in the hands of those that need them. Revenue from the kits program directly supports the Public Lab nonprofit.
Public Lab Store
Schools, teachers, and institutions can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details on reduced shipping costs and bulk orders.
Kits Initiative Objectives
The two main goals of the program are:
- Building a space to create “big data” through “small data” from grassroots sources through the development of a data publishing platform, formatting citizen-collected data to be comparable to government data, and making data actionable by communities to agitate for change, online and offline, and,
- Scaling the development and production of kits, and developing novel kits, to enable over tens of thousands of people to participate in shaping these technologies and producing their own environmental data
Hosting and distributing tools and techniques within Public Lab's store not only helps projects grow, but also supports the mission* of the 501(c)3 Public Lab nonprofit by providing low cost access to environmental monitoring tools. Contributors and project developers are encouraged to view this as a way to support research on the project and help move our mission forward, not solely as a means to making a financial profit. The Public Lab hosting process requires project leaders to follow the best practices of the Public Lab development process, including open sourcing of plans, cooperative development, and community facilitation.
What does this mean?
Hosting kit design & development, sourcing, assembly and distribution with Public Lab, opens your project to a broad community of activists, technologists, and tinkerers working on related projects, all with the common goal of building a robust toolkit for open source community-led environmental monitoring. Working through the open process allows for helpful feedback, quick design iteration, and sharing of ideas. Additionally, incubating with us provides access to the Public Lab brand, customer base, and production/distribution infrastructure. Public Lab Kits Initiative staff provide necessary support for kit distribution, including promotion of the tool in our online store, organizing payments, and shipping.
Since 2012 Public Lab has been developing low cost, open source and user-modifiable kits. By providing low cost accessible kits to the public, we seek to support a growing number of communities in creating a collaborative network of practitioners generating knowledge and data about environmental health. Since 2013 Public Lab kits have been shipped to over 71 different countries and connected thousands of community members.
Through our hosting program, we seek to help develop new and novel kits, guides, and curriculum to engage over 10,000 participants in production of their own civic data. In doing so, we seek to add to a growing catalog of innovative tools, with an ever-broadening reach and accessibility.
The Public Lab Kits Initiative is a part of the Public Lab Nonprofit which distributes open hardware kits to support the Public Lab community. The Kits Initiative is based out of Public Lab's Providence, Rhode Island office.
In the spirit of open source, here are a lot of the docs and files we use for the everyday running of the Kits initiative: