Brooklyn is one of the most popular places in the world, especially for its bridges, bagels, and cyclone rides. Recently, however, it might have become a superfund site, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took the Gowanus Canal under its jurisdiction. Why are the water bodies becoming polluted? The answer is the combined sewage overflow. Something called a flir camera is used to capture the thermal variation in the water. As the dumped waste is considerably warmer than the water, the camera can be used to identify illegal sites disposing of sewage in the water.
A big problem is that these flir cameras are very expensive. There is no way for the society to check whether the results put forth by EPA are authentic or false. “There’s not enough scientific data on a public and local community level for people to understand the actual health hazards,” Kaya Simmons says. This Northeastern University student, therefore, decided to tackle this problem by himself.
Simmons took the help of assistant professor Sara Wylie to develop a do-it-yourself instrument. This instrument would be a low-cost replica of the flir camera, enabling even the community to find the thermal results of the water, including the Gowanus Canal. One of Wylie’s student at Rhode Island School of Design came up with the idea.
The device officially goes by the name of ‘thermal fishing bob’. It owes its name to its light-weight, as it can be attached to a fishing line and thrown in the water. As you pull it back out, it collects the required data. This device needs around $70 to develop currently, but the rate might go down by $20 or $30. Simmons and Wylie would first need to figure out the hacks and kinks. It is currently being kept in the Public Lab for purchase. “So, anyone who wants to use it can,” he said. The Public Lab is also keeping the instructions if people want to make it all by themselves.