Saturday, January 19, 2013

Continuing to Help Hurricane Sandy

Photo Courtesy: SUDS and RocketHub
Hurricane Sandy struck the US nearly three months ago.  While many of us have moved on with our daily lives, the people impacted by the Storm have not.  Their lives were permanently disrupted; they are still working through the storm's effects and will be for years to come.  Much of this is from the financial and psychological impact of the storm.  But there is an ongoing environmental and medical impact that must be dealt with.

The Send Us Your Dirt from Sandy (SUDS) project addresses these very issues.  Researchers are collecting samples from citizen scientists across the region and testing the dirt for cancer-causing carcinogens and other dangerous chemicals  This can be used to map out continuing danger areas and pinpoint areas requiring continued clean-up.  Researchers are already lining up the samples and the testing equipment.  All they need now is financial help.

In the previous SUDS post I talked a lot about KickStarter (which SUDS was using) along with other crowd-funding web sites that let the public donate to important causes.  I am a supporter of SUDS and made a donation myself...unfortunately it was not enough.  The Kickstarter campaign ended and they did not meet their initial goal, meaning all the funds were sent back to donors.  But now they are back with RocketHub.  It's a very similar site but without project minimums, so even if the fall a bit short of the goal their research can continue.

Right now things are looking great for SUDS!  They have just over week left in the campaign but have already raised their minimum amount.  But we all know that's not always enough.  Let's help push them up even higher and increase the scope of their research. It's also a great chance to show the power of citizen science funding it's own projects, and will encourage other researchers to involve the public in funding decisions.  I made my contribution, won't you help too?

Finally, this is a great example of the differences between crowd-funding web sites and picking the best one for your project.  In this case if you don't need the entire amount to get started but can continue with only partial funding, RocketHub may be better than KickStarter.  On the other hand, KickStarter is more well-known and might draw more people to see your project.  There are also differences in how the project is highlighted, the demographics of each site, how much donors on each site contribute, how sites encourage continued donations, etc.  So site selection is critical as project designers look to the public as a source of funding.

Just one more important tip for the next generation of citizen scientists.