Tomnod Website Set Up To Involve Public In The Search For Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

    March 12, 2014
    Val Powell
    Comments are off for this post.

A website, Tomnod.com, has been set up to enable the public to help in solving the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. The plane and its passengers—239 in all—vanished from radar as it headed to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur on March 8th.

Tomnod, a Mongolian word that translates to “Big Eye,” is owned by Colorado-based satellite company Digital Globe. The company trained five satellites on the region of the Gulf of Thailand, the plane’s last known location. The satellites transmit data and photos of the area on the Tomnod website. It is hoped that through millions of crowdsourcing volunteers acting as a large virtual search party, signs of the missing plane will be found.

The online response was so immense that the site required emergency maintenance. Before the site went down, there had already been six million map views, with half a million users signing up. The crash of the website is a good sign, the company said, because it means that many people are interested in helping out. The uploaded images have been getting a lot of tags, and the company said that they will be uploading more images, including those taken by satellites above the Strait of Malacca.

Users can log on to Tomnod.com to view and examine the high-definition images taken by the satellites from 400 miles above the gulf. If there’s anything suspicious, users can publicly geotag the object or area. A computer algorithm will then determine the areas that are tagged more than others, and the information will be studied by in-house experts to check for any leads generated from the consensus tagging.

Digital Globe has done a similar crowdsourcing project the previous year in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in November. The campaign enabled volunteers to tag over 60,000 objects of interest based on the satellite photos and the information was given to emergency responders.

Satellite footage of Philippines before and after Typhoon 

Shay Har-Noy Talks About Tomnod

Image via YouTube

  • jz

    not the best choice of words there … “The crash is a good sign”. I take it to mean the website disruption, and know there’s no ill intent, but given the circumstances, I’m sure a more watchful writer would be mindful of word choice.

  • fako namo

    The plane is in the SW jungle on the island of Sumatra.
    You’re welcome.

  • johnhenry

    this is an image taken on the 9th….not very accurate , seeing that the search area has changed 4 times.

  • Eddie

    Site doesn’t work and properly…… Images are not showing

    My browser console is full of errors like following…

    GET https://ddnhehdam2vn0.cloudfront.net/malaysiaair2014_02/12/3225/2128.jpg 403 (Forbidden) OpenLayers.js:451

    GET https://ddnhehdam2vn0.cloudfront.net/malaysiaair2014_02/12/3219/2138.jpg 403 (Forbidden) OpenLayers.js:451

  • sb

    Waste of anyone’s time. It would be good if we could make a real contribution but if the experts cant then what chance have we especially when we have no idea what we are even looking at.

    • nikki

      did you ck it out? i did, saw a oblong object lastnite…others said it was a ship..its kinda cool, and you never know….someone may tag something and it could help..you do see objects..i did..

  • j may

    tomnod needs to relocate its searches to Vietnam…

    check it out!


  • faisal

    I would like to see all the nearby plane lands i.e. plane grass grounds, any old landing airports, old military airports or any surface where there is a possibility where the plane can land. Also look for the radar which can detect the lower flying airplanes.

  • faisal

    If the ships are installed with radars, then the radars of those ships can be checked, there may be many ships in that area at that time, i am just giving an idea.

    • rol

      korek ka dyan

  • SF

    Is it possible to have the zoom in to shorter distance? So that can search the small particle of floating wreckage on the sea surface. For this 20 meter scale map, how big is the dot we can see for escapee?
    To conclude this search, think should include the remark of some “blind spot” of the area covered by cloud.

  • Glen

    Hi I think the plane definitely has been hijacked, it is probably in Somali land Africa by now.there will probably be a ramson note forth- coming. The plane was too well made and pilot was too well trained, to have the plane just crash and burn, remember there was no debri found anywhere. please look in airport in Somali land where a plane that large could land and quickly be covered by tarps.the plane has been hi-jacked for sure. it is all about money folks and greed. tks for now Glen

  • MikeT

    Great idea, but site won’t load. It gets to a point and then hangs. Pity.

  • babs

    I thought Tomnod was in real time. The bottom screen shows image date today as 3/11/14 when it should read 3/15. Can someone explain that? And it site constantly crashes. How can we help if this doesn’t work?

  • Ray4dan

    Has anyone looked on the Island of Coscos. Long runway there?

  • Ray4dan

    Actually it is Cocos or Keeling Island southwest of Sumatra. It would be nice if there was an overlaid map or you coul zoom out to get your bearings on Tomnod.