Use InternetSAR To Find Ron Boychuk and Others

internetsar logo

Ron Boychuk disappeared on October 23, 2007 while flying to Vancouver. His family is still searching for him and his plane to find out what happened. Digital Globe (an imagery company and frequent Where 2.0 participant) has donated imagery to the cause (Radar post). A new site, InternetSAR (internet Search and Rescue), is being used to conduct the search.

It was formed as a result of Steve Fossett’s disappearance (the fourth large-scale hunt in the past year). As the group states about themselves:

InternetSAR was founded in November 2007, as a result of the collaborative Google Earth/Amazon MTurk Internet imagery search for Steve Fossett, who went missing on September 3, 2007 while flying over southern Nevada. After the Internet search was called off, a group of committed volunteers worked to continue the Internet search effort for Steve Fossett. With some sleuthing, one member of this group figured out how to write the Google Earth KML imagery overlays of available imagery and designed an overlay generator which allowed the Internet search effort to continue.

Using these overlays is a bit clunky, but fairly straightforward. I registered and joined the search for Ron. I downloaded a KML file with the next image overlay in the queue. Once the image was in Google Earth I followed the directions:

Use a systematic pattern to scan the downloaded images at an “eye alt” of about 500 feet. If you see anything that looks like it could be a possible plane crash site (or the searched for object), you will need to check to see if the suspicious object was there previous to the plane’s or object’s disappearance.

If you find something you can then report it for further review. There are 8600 overlays that have been made available in the most likely areas — plenty of content for volunteers to wade through.

InternetSAR is a useful and noble effort. There were five of these hunts that came to my attention in the past year. Each one (prior to Ron’s) had to have an ad hoc system set-up and rely on commercial resources for the search. As the idea that technology can potentially save loved ones or at least answer some questions permeates society there will be more of these online search campaigns.

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