Type of site
crowdsourcing platform /
web application[1]
Current statusRetired

Tomnod was a project owned by Colorado-based satellite company DigitalGlobe that used crowdsourcing to identify objects and places in satellite images. It was announced Tomnod was no longer using crowdsourcing of images as of 1 August 2019.[2]


Originally a research project of the University of California, San Diego in 2010,[3] Tomnod (Mongolian for "big eye")[4] was founded by Shay Har-Noy, Luke Barrington, Nate Ricklin and Albert Yu Min Lin.[5][6] Three years later, Tomnod was acquired by the company DigitalGlobe while incubating at EvoNexus.[7] Tomnod uses online map interfaces that engage many people to each view and tag a small section of a large area on the planet. In 2011 Tomnod cooperated with the UNHCR to locate refugee camps in Somalia.[8] Users were asked to use satellite images to count the shelters of refugees. Other projects include searching for the tomb of Genghis Khan,[9] mapping damage after Typhoon Haiyan,[4] and searching for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.[10]

Finding wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

Starting in March 2014 Tomnod took images gathered by DigitalGlobe satellites and offered them to the public for viewing and identification in the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.[11] Over 8 million people used the site to look for signs of wreckage, oil spills and other objects of interest.[11] Prior to this search effort Tomnod had 10,000 contributors for other projects on the site.[12] Users could tag images which are later reviewed with algorithms.[6][13] The site was down on 11 and 12 March due to high traffic (100,000 visits per minute).[8] It was reported that over 650,000 "objects of interest" had been tagged by users on Tomnod and that their maps had been viewed over 98 million times.[6] Originally Tomnod had included 24,000 square kilometres of satellite imagery for users to search.[11] Later they included maps of 14,000 km2 of the Straits of Malacca and the Indian Ocean as new information was released.[14]

See also


  1. ^ "tomnod (home page)". Tomnod. Retrieved 14 April 2015. The Tomnod mission is to utilize the power of crowdsourcing to identify objects and places in satellite images. We created this web app with thousands of volunteers (like you!) in mind.
  2. ^ "Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Millions of Users Crash Crowd-Sourcing Site Tomnod". International Business Times. 12 March 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  3. ^ "Alumni Crowdsourcing Venture Acquired by Satellite Imaging Co". UC San Diego. Summer 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Virtual search party for Malaysian plane back up and running". Fox News. 11 March 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  5. ^ "Crowdsourcing search for Malaysian plane goes viral, but no luck so far". CNN. 13 March 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  6. ^ a b c "Web collects 650K clues in satellite-image search for missing plane". CNET. 12 March 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  7. ^ "Missing Malaysian jet: Satellite imagery provider invites public's help". LA Times. 11 March 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  8. ^ a b "Using crowdsourcing to search for flight MH 370 has both pluses and minuses". Quartz News. 12 March 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  9. ^ "How the Search for Genghis Khan Helped the United Nations Map Refugees in Somalia". National Geographic. 23 July 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  10. ^ "Missing Airplane: Malaysia Airlines MH370 - help us tag!". Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  11. ^ a b c "Tomnod – the online search party looking for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370". The Guardian. 14 March 2014. Retrieved 15 March 2014.
  12. ^ "Tomnod campaign to find missing Malaysian jet draws online crowds". San Jose Mercury News. 12 March 2014. Retrieved 15 March 2014.
  13. ^ "Tomnod: How to join the virtual search party scanning satellite imagery for missing flight MH370". The Independent. 13 March 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  14. ^ "Missing MH370: Online map site Tomnod expands search to Straits of Malacca, Indian Ocean". The Star. 16 March 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014.

External links

  • Official website
  • Crowdsourced FAQ page