Extra pair of eyes: Dr Vu sifting through the images provided by DigitalGlobe.
PETALING JAYA: Millions of netizens worldwide are looking through satellite-captured images of the Gulf of Thailand to try and locate missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
Covering over 24,000 sq km of sea, the images provided by US-based satellite imagery company DigitalGlobe have drawn some two million people so far to find objects on its public map site Tomnod (www.tomnod.com).
Objects found by Tomnod users are tagged for scrutiny under four categories – oil markers, wreckage, rafts and miscellaneous.
“More than two million people have tagged some 645,000 features so far, making this the largest Tomnod campaign in history,” a blog post on DigitalGlobe’s website read.
On its Facebook page, DigitalGlobe said that more than 216,000 people have created online accounts to analyse Tomnod’s images so far, though you don’t have to do this if you want to join in the search.
Searching for objects in the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea is no easy work as local Tomnod user Lim Kok Tong, 35, found out.
“I spent nearly seven hours in total looking for something. It’s tedious work and I haven’t tagged anything yet,” the freelance writer said.
Lim added that some of the images were obscured by clouds, making it difficult for him to look for the plane.
A CNN news report said Tomnod volunteers in November 2013 tagged over 60,000 objects of interest based on images in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in The Philippines. This information was then forwarded to emergency responders.
The MH370-specific search was launched on March 10.
Also sifting through the images was Associate Prof Dr Tuong-Thuy Vu, geospatial researcher at the School of Geography the University of Nottingham, Malaysia.
“It’s actually very helpful when thousands of people work together to locate something,” he said in a phone interview.
He said not much expertise was required and the more people involved, the higher the probability of finding what was needed.
He said the satellite images he was looking at were from early hours of the morning on Sunday, March 9.
To his knowledge, this would be the biggest crowdsourced effort for search and rescue to date.
Prior to this, he had also been involved in disaster recovery efforts for Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in November last year.