Tomnod Crashes: Website Used in Crowdsearch for Missing Malaysia Flight Overwhelmed

March 11, 2014 Updated: July 18, 2015

Tomnod, the website on which people are scouring satellite images for any sign of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, crashed on Tuesday amid an overwhelming response. 

Colorado-based Digital Globe provided the images using its five satellites. 

The satellites scanned the Gulf of Thailand region, one of the possible locations of the missing flight.

The site crashed because of the large number of volunteers coming on and looking at the images, requiring the managers to conduct emergency maintenance.

“It’s a good reason to have our site crash,” a spokesperson for Digital Globe told Fox News. “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.” 

Any person can log on the website and pore through thousands of high-definition images of a particular region and “geotag” anything that looks promising. A computer algorithm sorts the geotags and a group of experts follow any leads that come up.

“Luckily, the imagery had been exhausted with searching before the site went down,” Luke Barrington, senior manager of Geospatial Big Data for Digital Globe. “We have had six million map views. Half-a-million people have signed up, it’s a 100 times the response we’ve had before.”

Many users tagged photos of an oil slick that some thought came from the plane crashing into the ocean but that theory was later dispelled by officials.

The website has been used in the past but never at this large of a scale.

Ships and aircraft from multiple countries in the region are also searching for the plane or what remains of it after it mysteriously vanished after losing touch with air traffic control on Saturday morning. It was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

As of this writing, the website appeared to be back online again. 

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