The world is waiting anxiously to hear any news about the mystery of Malaysia Airways Flight 370, and big data may be the key to tracing the disappearing plane. Officials around the globe have been working tirelessly to find out what happened to the Boeing 777 jet and its 239 passengers since it disappeared from radars March 8.
More countries join in on search
Currently, 25 countries are taking part in the search, looking into the backgrounds of the passengers and crew of the flight that had been heading to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, as well as conducting physical searches of the ocean and land beneath the plane's intended flight path, according to CBS News. Experts are trying to piece together what little information they have from the radio conversation between the pilots and ground staff as well as from flight simulators and projected flight paths to determine where the commercial plane may have gone. CNN reported that the last radio contact with the plane was at 1:21 a.m. local time when one of the two pilots simply said, "All right, good night." Military radar lost sight of the jet nearly an hour later at 2:15 a.m.
Big data analytics aid in search efforts
As the search for Flight 370 continues, those looking for any sign of this plane and the people on board are using every resource at their disposal, and analytic tools are high on that list. DigitalGlobe, a commercial vendor of geospatial and space imagery, is using its crowdsourcing website Tomnod to enlist the help of the public, according to eWEEK.
The company has numerous satellites that have been programmed to take photos specifically of the area in which the plane would most likely be, focusing in particular on the waters surrounding Malaysia. People can visit the site and search thousands of images stored in a database, making note of anything that may resemble the plane or a piece of it.
"On Tomnod.com, any person can go and just look at photos in the gird, and you're supposed to flag anything that looks interesting," said Daniel Hardman, the chief architect at Adaptive Computing, which serves DigitalGlobe and other companies involved in this project, according to eWEEK. "The problem is, humans can see a lot of things, but they might not always be the right things."
The flagged images are then run through a database, and any areas with lots of hits will be put through further scrutiny and relayed to search-and-rescue teams that physically go out and check for evidence of the plane. The source stated that more than 421,000 photos of the Indian Ocean have already been logged.