Beatriz da Costa with Cina Hazegh and Kevin Ponto

PigeonBlog

PigeonBlog enlists homing pigeons to participate in a grassroots scientific data gathering initiative designed to collect and distribute information about air quality conditions to the general public.

Pigeons are equipped with custom-built miniatureair pollution sensing devices enabled to send localized infor m ation to an online server without delay. Pollution levels are visualized and plotted in real-ti m e over Google’s m apping environment, thus allowing immediate access to the data for anyone with connection to the Internet. The pigeon “backpack” consists of a combined GPS/GSM unit and corresponding antennas, a dual automotive CO/NOx pollutionsensor, a SIM card interface, a m icrocontroller and standard supporting electronic components. This project uses homing pigeons asreporters of current air pollution and seeks to achieve two main goals: 1) to re-invoke a sense of urgency around a topic that has serioushealth, environmental and political consequences, but often lacks public action and commitment to change; and 2) to broaden the notion of grassroots scientific data gathering while building bridges between scientific research agendas and activist oriented citizen concerns.

Beatriz da Costa is an interdisciplinary artist and researcher. She works at the intersection of conte m porary art, science, engineering and political activism . Her work takes the for m of public participatory interventions, locative m edia, conceptual tool building, and critical writing. Recent interests include interspecies collaborative efforts in order to promote the responsible use of natural resources and environmental sustainability. Beatriz is an Associate Professor in the Arts, Computation, Engineering (ACE) graduate program at the University of California, Irvine .