Geography students asked to help in search for missing Malaysian jet

12 Mar 2014 13:14:23.990

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As the search widens and the Malaysian authorities ask for more help Geography students at The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) have been given the opportunity to join in the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370. Using the latest crowdsourcing techniques for satellite image interpretation they will be able to join volunteers across the globe in the search for the missing aircraft.

Geospatial scientist Dr Tuong-Thuy Vu, whose area of research includes disaster responses and crowd-sourcing, has already joined the list of worldwide volunteers called up by the international organisation DigitalGlobe to help locate the Boeing 777 using their Earth Observation satellite images.

Dr Vu said: “Earth Observation satellite platforms play an important role in every aspect of our life. They capture frequent and up to date images everywhere on Earth with the very latest synoptic views — up to 0.5 m resolution — of the Earth surface. In the area of emergency and post-disaster responses it is sometimes the sole data source when accessibility on the ground becomes impossible. As the search for flight MH370 enters its fifth day with ships, aircraft and helicopters, Earth observation satellite platforms have been deployed as another option.”

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DigitalGlobe has put its tomnod crowdsourcing platform to work with volunteers assigned a collection of satellite images to scour in the hope of pinpointing any clues or wreckage. Dr Vu has asked his students at UNMC if they want to participate. He said: “I have looked at 40 tiles (images) so far, but no news yet. I also informed students today and asked if they want to participate. I also hope that satellite images of more extended area will be soon available.”

DigitalGlobe is a leading provider of high-resolution remote sensing images, has activated FirstLook — an online subscription service for emergency management which delivers web-based access to pre and post event imagery of world disasters to almost any desktop or web based mapping platform. It is used by emergency-response agencies in natural disasters, manmade crises and human interest scenarios. Now, two of its five satellites are scanning and capturing the images which are then available on for volunteers to scan and tag the images.

Dr Vu said: “The Vietnamese authorities have informed that the national Earth Observation VNREDSAT-1 is directed to observe the Gulf of Thailand area whereas China highlighted that the system of 10 satellites have been observing the suspected areas.”


Dr Tuong-Thuy Vu’s Open-Source Geospatial Development research lab in the School of Geography at UNMC has been active in research using Earth Observation images to support disaster and emergency responses. The on-going activity focuses in integrating crowd-sourced data information to supplement/validate the analysed satellite images, which is in line with current effort by DigitalGlobe. He has contributed to this initiative by DigitalGlobe in response to the Philippines Haiyan typhoon and the MH730 search.

His OSGEO research lab is also expanding research on the quality of crowd-sourced data in collaboration with Nottingham Geospatial Institute and the Crops for the Future Research Centre.


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Notes to editors: The University of Nottinghamhas 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with campuses in China and Malaysia modelled on a headquarters that is among the most attractive in Britain’ (Times Good University Guide 2014). It is also the most popular university among graduate employers, the world’s greenest university, and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the World's Top 75 universities by the QS World University Rankings.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…


Story credits

More information is available from Dr Thuy Vu, +6 (03) 8924 8757,
Lindsay Brooke

Lindsay Brooke - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: University Park

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