Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Now You Can Hunt for Flight 370


With the help of high-res satellite images and altruistic humans, the world's leading earth imagery company has launched a campaign to scan the Gulf of Thailand for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

Five days after a plane carrying 239 passengers disappeared into thin air, the international community is desperate for an answer.

Any morsel of rationale for why the “supremely safe” Boeing 777 vanished is swallowed like a pill. A brief report claiming the Royal Malaysian Air force had detected the missing plane “hundreds of miles off course” dominated the news cycle Tuesday night, only to be retracted when the air force chief spoke out, denying it. The false claim is one of at least a dozen coloring the narrative. Other offenders are apparent “debris” sightings, passenger cellphone calling, and lethal terrorist identification.

But as the media plays tug-of-war over why a seemingly well-functioning plane disappeared on a simple trip from Kuala Lumpar to Beijing, one American company is focusing on where it could’ve happened.

Using high-resolution satellite images and the eyes of any human that’s willing to help, earth imagery company DigitalGlobe launched a campaign to scan the Gulf of Thailand for survivors. “If you ever looked at Google Earth or Apple maps, you’ve seen DigitalGlobe’s work,” Luke Barrington, the company’s senior manager of geospatial big data. With five high-resolution satellites in space, DigitalGlobe is the leading earth-imagery company in the world, offering services to clients that range from the defense community to the oil experts.

The project itself is fueled by Tomnod, a pioneering crowdsourcing platform that DigitalGlobe purchased last April. Tomnod, which is entirely user-driven, outsources the analysis of satellite photos to anyone with the time and energy to review them.

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