Tomnod Crowdsourced Search: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Tomnod is a crowdsourcing platform for solving global problems, including the recent Malaysia Airlines crash. Learn more about this amazing project below.

1. Tomnod Uses Volunteers to Scan Satellite Images

Tomnod is a service that uses the power of crowdsourcing to scan satellite images. Volunteers can review images taken by satellites and “tag” areas of the image that are suspicious or require further study.

CNN explains that the site was used last November during Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Volunteers went online and tagged over 60,000 objects of interest from satellite photos. The information was then passed along from Tomnnod to emergency responders.

Tomnod was also used to track damage after natural disasters such as floods or tornadoes in the US.

2. Tomnod Is Being Used to Help Search For Lost Malayasia Air Flight

You can visit this page on the Tomnod site to join the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. Users can tag oil slicks, wreckage, or life rafts.

The flight was headed from Beijing from Kuala Lumpur on March 8. It has since disappeared without a trace.

In a status update on their Facebook page, Tomnod wrote that 115,000+ volunteers have viewed the Malaysia Air maps over 14 million times.

3. Tomnod Means “Big Eye”

The site takes its name from the Mongolian word “tomnod,” which means “big eye.” This name makes a lot of sense, as the satellite images used in the service are like having a “big eye” watching over the entire globe.

4. Tomnod Is Owned by Digital Globe

Tomnod is owned by Colorado-based satellite company Digital Globe.

The Denver Post has a great breakdown of Digital Globe’s relationship to Tomnod:

“‘If there is something to see on the surface (of the water), we will see it. But the question is if we are looking in the right area,’ said Luke Barrington, DigitalGlobe’s senior manager of geospatial big data…

DigitalGlobe activates FirstLook — used by emergency-response agencies in natural disasters, manmade crises and human interest scenarios — about twice a week, while Tomnod is used more selectively and for different reasons, Barrington said.”

5. Tomnod Website Unable to Meet Demand, Crashes

Fox News reports that Tomnod crashed earlier this week, as a result of a traffic overload. Too many people were attempting to access the site and locate the Malaysia Airlines flight. The site went down on March 11, but is currently up and running again.

“‘It’s a good reason to have our site crash,’ a spokesperson for DigitalGlobe told ‘We did get an overwhelming amount of people responding. It has been going well. We are getting a lot of tags and will be uploading more images for people to search.'”

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