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Protest Tip: Make Sure the World is Watching By Bringing it With You

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, August 24 2011

In Chile, our friends at Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente collaborated with Public Laboratory to outfit student protests with their own low-cost, live-streaming aerial coverage.

Public Lab, an outgrowth of the Grassroots Mapping project, focuses on finding ways to turn DIY tools into scientific instruments for citizen scientists. We know them from their work teaching people to document the Deepwater Horizon oil spill's impact in their own communities by hoisting cheap cameras aloft with the help of balloons, pulling them back down with DIY aerial imagery.

Cuidadano Inteligente's Elizabeth Wolf writes on Public Lab's blog that Cuidadano adopted Public Lab's balloon mapping techniques to instead document the progression of a June protest in real-time, showing how many people were there — and that they were peaceful:

These protests have been covered by media outlets worldwide, often featuring negative images of the few individuals who cause trouble. Most media attention focuses on people fighting with each other, and with the police, showing the resulting arrests and damage to public property. While this is one characteristic of the protests, there is another side of the story that isn’t always covered by the media. That side is of the great majority of the participants in the protest; the individual citizen, who is marching peacefully to show their concern for the issue at hand. As an organization, we do not take sides on political issues of this nature, however, we support a citizen’s right to express their content or discontent with their government.

The result is a choppy and slightly vertigo-inducing UStream video captured by an iPhone 3G as it was suspended high above the protests. It doesn't make for thrilling television — but it does provide a friendly eye in the sky for protesters.