The Public Laboratory’s Matthew Lippincott and Shannon Dosemagen were at SXSW demonstrating their successful DIY Balloon Mapping Kit taking aerial views of the Knight and O’Reilly/MAKE booths. With an initial goal of acquiring enough money to fund a large group buy, their Kickstarter campaign quickly grew to 558% of its intended $6,200 goal. Using commonly sourced parts, including a 2-liter soda bottle, rubber bands, and a fishing swivel, The Public Laboratory’s team has fashioned a rig that’s capable of keeping the camera safe from the environment and wind stabilized. After collecting photos from the balloon, they’re processed with the group’s MapKnitter software, which stitches them together and places them on a map.
Check out the group’s archive if you’re interested in seeing what others have surveyed. If the success of projects like openstreetmaps.org and The Public Laboratory’s Balloon Mapping Kit (advanced kit order sign-up here) are any indicator, citizen mapping is destined to continue grow in popularity and use.