Fletcher in the News

Patrick Meier (F12) Comments on the Technologies behind the Search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

Radar, radio and sonar can all be used to locate missing planes. Now, a crowdsourcing initiative is allowing regular people to comb satellite images in to the search for flight MH370, which went missing last Saturday…

…Colorado-based satellite network company DigitalGlobe is providing satellite imagery of the search area to its daughter company Tomnod, a humanitarian platform that cuts the images into small chunks and allows volunteers to search for and tag any out-of-the-ordinary items on the ocean surface…

…After passing through the first filter of the crowd, a Tomnod algorithm identifies significant images to pass along to professional imagery analysts, which will then be communicated to search and rescue efforts, explained Patrick Meier, a humanitarian technology specialist who has collaborated on the Tomnod project.

"It's adding some data quality control mechanisms within the wisdom of the crowd," Meier told DW.

A similar Tomnod crowdsourcing initiative was used to estimate the number of internally displaced in Somalia in 2011, in order to assist the United Nations in its refugee relief efforts.

Tomnod administrators say that with more than 100,000 page views every minute, they have been struggling to keep the site running. And they've not seen any breakthroughs yet. "It's really quite extraordinary that no one has seen a sign of this aircraft," Meier said.

Read the full piece

Posted in: