Why are these measurements useful?
Radioactivity is present everywhere on our planet, forming an ambient radiological background noise mainly consisting of radionuclides, which are naturally present in the soils and materials surrounding us, and in cosmic radiation, but also radionuclides produced by human activity, e.g. during nuclear tests in the 1960's or past accidents (Tchernobyl, Fukushima, etc.). Citizens can improve their understanding of radioactivity and the associated exposure by measuring values in their immediate environment, forming their own opinion and learning lessons for their day-to-day lives in some cases.
One of the lessons learned from the Fukushima Dai-ichi accident is that inadequate knowledge and understanding of events and their consequences in a crisis situation is extremely stressful for those directly affected, but also for more remote witnesses. On this basis, if citizens collect data allocated to locations (both affected and unaffected), and share this data, this will help to inform the population on how to manage such situations.
In an educational context, some universities and high schools consider that easy-to-use dosimeters can be particularly worthwhile from an educational viewpoint for some training programmes. In fact, as students are actively involved in using a dosimeter, and in acquiring data, they become particularly aware of the meaning and relevance of the results obtained. In general, knowledge of the context and the operating limits of dosimeters leads to a more critical and pertinent view of measurements, helping to train "educated citizens", who are more likely to understand related priorities.
This educational aspect was considered from day one of the OpenRadiation project. On the one hand, in terms of the dosimetric application, by offering a "kit" version of the dosimeter to assemble yourself and a smartphone application, which is as educational as possible (measurement reliability indicator, possibility to enter environmental settings, etc.) and on the other hand, in terms of the site, by providing functionalities which can be used to discuss unusual measurements and provide advice on good measuring practices, to give just a couple of examples.