With all of this technology available to us and everyone’s wanton desire to be a sticky-beak it’s no wonder that these two things have collided. Enter Pachube. I’ve no idea how to pronounce it but it might just open up a a whole new world of water cooler discussion at the least, or on the other hand it might just tell you if the winds of change are going to kill you. Intrigued? 

Pachube is a website that serves as a central point for data collection from every conceivably measurable quantity. In their own words they aim to build the “Internet of things”. Whereas the regular Internet (like what you’re perusing now) serves up information about Justin Bieber’s hair, Pachube allows you to search the globe and find out whether or not a person in Kazakhstan has left their lights on for too long.

But how can this be done?

Well, like-minded, socially aware individuals have connected various sensors and services via the internet to the Pachube servers. This data can then be “subscribed” to. You can even get this information while you’re on the go with a free iPhone app called PachubeMon. People have connected home solar power setups, light level sensors, humidity gauges, garage doors, and anything else that can me measured.

One fascinating personal project has sprung from the creative mind of expat Melbourne interaction designer, Haiyan Zhang. Her Failed Robot blog now features a conglomeration of crowd sourced Geiger counter readings from across Japan in the wake of the nuclear reactor disasters.

When I contacted Haiyan she said that her goal “was to create a visualisation that allowed ordinary people to get access to a wide variety of data sources and to understand the radiation measurements across the country”. She went on to say that “my hope is that this information will lead to a deeper engagement with their environment and government”.

The beauty of Haiyan’s work is that her passion for collaboration has created a community based visualisation that has such an impact. All of this despite that fact that she humbly only wished “to just make something” and all by using freely available data accumulated by Pachube.

So what could you do with Pachube?

For starters you could use off the shelf bits like the Arduino and cheap sensors to create “The Internet of your home”. You could broadcast to the world:

  • The output power of your solar panels.
  • How much power you’re consuming.
  • The temperature, humidity, rainfall, and light levels at your home.
  • How often the doggie door is being opened.

So, in a nutshell, concepts like Pachube and communities sharing information freely could lead to an increase in global collaboration across many fields – with green issues obviously taking centre stage.

It’s easy to contribute and super easy to find some amazing information about the world we live in.

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