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
— Farrukh Bashir (@mefunaki) March 12, 2014
Shay Har-Noy Talks About Tomnod
Image via YouTube