Boston Bomber Manhunt Reveals Power, Risks of Crowd-Sourcing
NEWS ANALYSIS: The intense manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects demonstrated the effectiveness of crowd-sourcing for images and information in a massive terrorism investigation.The little good news that came out of Boston in the wake of the April 15 Patriots’ Day marathon bombing—beside the apprehension of the suspects—was that crowd-sourcing was a huge success in helping to identify the suspects. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Boston Police started what might reasonably be called the biggest crowd-sourced manhunt in history without knowing the sheer volume of tips and material the effort would produce. But after two bomb explosions, at least four murders and hundreds of injuries, they had to do something fast. So they asked everyone to send them their digital photos. And that made all the difference. The FBI started receiving thousands of tips, and thousands of photos from phones and digital cameras taken by spectators near the finish line of the Boston Marathon almost as soon as the dust had settled.
In addition, investigators obtained the photos from dozens of surveillance cameras near the area. In a press conference the next day, the FBI Special Agent in Charge, Richard DesLauriers, formally asked the public for help in providing any information they might have on the suspects.