Assignment 4 Sensor Journalism

I hadn’t really thought too much about sensor journalism prior to this class but now that I’ve read up on it a bit more I think its a really great way for journalists to gather and then write about data.

I found the Sun Sentinel case study to be the most interesting personally. By combining the speeding gun data with the tollbooth data and GPS unit they were able to find some incredible information. They found that between October 2010 and November 2011 police drive their cars more than 6,000 times above the speed limit and not only that but over 90mph. By using sensors and and data they were able to uncover this culture of recklessness in the police department. What’s also interesting is that they got the idea for the reporting technique from a reader. This kind of falls into the category of UGC and I think it is important that all journalists are open to different solutions to problems, even if it comes from the comments of an article.

I wasn’t able to find any specific sensor that was used for the Sun Sentinel story, but I was able to find a variety of Accelerometers like this one and this one that measure movement and speed like the equipment used to measure the speed of passing by cars in the case study.

This got me thinking about potential stories that could benefit from sensor journalism. As I was browsing for different sensors I came across the SparkFun Sound Detector Sensor. I had the idea of using it to see how much/to what extent noise and sound effects our sleep. The Sound Detector would measure the presence and amplitude of sound throughout the night. We would also measure the quality of sleep of an individual through a FitBit or sleeping app to see at what points their sleep is disturbed. The sensor would enable us to see if there is any correlation to loud sounds/obnoxious noises disrupting the quality of sleep. We could test this out in loud cities, apartments near construction sites, rooms facing the street versus not and see the effects of noise of ones sleep cycle and overall health.