Crowdsourcing a rescue: How you can find the missing Malaysian flight

Technology's reach means that thousands can sleuth the whereabouts of the missing Boeing 777

Topics: malaysia airlines flight mh370, innovation, satellite, crowdsourcing, ,

Crowdsourcing a rescue: How you can find the missing Malaysian flightA ground staff member walks under a Malaysia Airlines plane at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Wednesday, March 12, 2014. The missing Malaysian jetliner may have attempted to turn back before it vanished from radar, but there is no evidence it reached the Strait of Malacca, Malaysia's air force chief said Wednesday, denying reported remarks he said otherwise. The statement suggested continued confusion over where the Boeing 777 might have ended up, more than four days after it disappeared en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin) (Credit: AP)

Without getting off your duff, you can be part of the search and rescue efforts for Malaysian Flight 370, which mysteriously disappeared on its way to China on Sunday, March 9. DigitalGlobe, a Colorado satellite firm with one of the most advanced commercial satellite networks, is asking folks to help comb through 1,235 square miles of digital images in search for the missing Boeing 777.

According to CNN thousands have gone to DigitalGlobe’s website Tomnod.com — so many it actually crashed the site. (As of this post it is still down.) Luke Barrington of DigitalGlobe told a CNN affiliate, ”This is a real needle-in-the-haystack problem, except the haystack is in the middle of the ocean. I will ask you to mark anything that looks interesting, any signs of wreckage or life rafts.” DigitalGlobe’s website stated, “On Sunday, two of the company’s satellites collected imagery of the area where evidence suggested the aircraft may have crashed into the water, where the Gulf of Thailand meets the South China Sea.”

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After strange radar blips the physical search has widened to two different areas: the Strait of Malacca and at the south of the Gulf of Thailand.

This is not the first time crowdsourcing has been used in the wake of tragedy. Reddit and Twitter infamously circulated — often incorrect — information after the Boston Marathon bombing in April of 2013. Reddit even falsely accused a man of being a suspect. If Tomnod.com gets back up and running, hopefully findings will not create mass panic or false implications.

Nothing has been found as of this post — digitally or physically — leaving many to wonder, “How do you lose an airplane?

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

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