citizen power brigadeThis summer Civic Ninjas was invited to the Inaugural National Maker Faire in Washington, D.C that grew out of the Inaugural White House Maker Faire held last year. We were honored to be asked to participate. Seeing the Maker movement’s potential was exciting. Taking a seat at that table was also exciting.

The Maker Movement has crept into the lives of nearly everyone over the last few years. The Faire exhibited applications of Maker technologies from individual makers producing toys to grad students solving scientific problems. It was moving to see the movement’s empowerment of the individual to impact the world around them.

It’s becoming difficult to think of the Maker movement without bringing up the Internet of Things. From rocking chairs that can generate power and deliver it wirelessly where needed to self-contained hydroponic gardens that can talk to sensors and the web to regulate the growth of their plants, the Internet of Things made its presence felt at the Faire as well.

Maker ideas aren’t just for the grassroots, of course. Many of the biggest names in advanced technology were present. Private sector innovators like Samsung and even Capital One, as a sponsor, took part in the event. NASA, with its eyes ever on Mars, showcased new developments which could be used in the effort to reach and explore that planetary neighbor. DARPA, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the USDA, plus other Federal agencies were present.

It says something about the power of the Maker movement that such high-level industry leaders - in multiple major industries - take the movement this seriously.

The Civic Ninjas exhibit hit close to home for a lot of the attendees. Disaster preparedness is on everyone’s minds as the ten year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches. What worked? What didn’t? What can we do to improve the response to a disaster?

We think Citizen Power Brigade’s Field Power Kit is one of the most useful ideas yet. At the Maker Faire, everyone seemed to agree. Applying Maker Movement concepts and technology to real world problems opened a lot of eyes. Makers have the power to directly impact the lives of their neighbors in important ways.

Also, the Internet of Things, the idea that our things can interact with each other in useful ways, has the power to completely redesign the fundamentals of how we live individually and as a civilization.

The Citizen Power Brigade brings the Maker Movement and the Internet of Things together in a way that is not just fun to play with or handy in a pinch: it can end up saving lives.

The Citizen Power Brigade Field Power Kit turns any hybrid electric vehicle into a mobile power station. These mobile power stations can charge up to 50 devices at a time. Up to 8000 devices could be charged before any concern about refueling the vehicle would arise. Medical applications exist as well, though the initial application is in making sure you stay connected with your loved ones in a crisis.

Imagine the storm has passed. Everyone is stepping, cautiously, out of their shelters. The first thing to do is touch base with loved ones. Then you contact any available help. Staying in touch is important.

Your mobile device sounds off to let you know when a mobile power station has been set up near you. You can find it with your device’s GPS. Local first responders can locate you and your family more easily. Each Citizen Power Brigade station becomes the hub of a mini-community, making the post-disaster environment safer and easier to handle.

The system works. It’s needed. Everyone noticed.

The response was overwhelming. From Federal agencies like NASA and FEMA to the President’s own staff, Citizen Power Brigade received kudos all around. It was humbling to see how many people’s lives can be positively impacted by the innovation that Makers like the Civic Ninjas bring to the world.

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