New Online Search And Rescue Mission Launched

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A group of committed volunteers who met online while participating in the Amazon/Google search for Steve Fossett has launched a new Web site, InternetSAR.org, to facilitate such searches in the future. "We learned a lot during the three months or so of searching for Steve, and we didn't want that collective wisdom to get lost," site founder Ken Barbalace told AVweb on Wednesday. About two dozen people have pitched in to help create the site, Barbalace said. "Our backgrounds range from pilots, professional image analysts, a skydiver, a Web site developer, and a few programmers, to people that just have a good eye for detail and have extra time to devote to the search." Tutorials and protocols are being developed to provide all searchers with feedback from senior image analysts, Barbalace said, so they can constantly improve their reports. Experienced searchers with proven abilities can weed out false positives and "white noise" to help make the process more useful to search-and-rescue teams. Currently, the site is helping in the search for pilot Ron Boychuk, who disappeared on October 23 while he was flying alone in a Cessna 172 from Revelstoke, in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada, to Vancouver Island. Volunteers, who must have Google Earth loaded on their computer and a broadband connection, are invited to register at the site and participate in the image analysis. Barbalace said he is working to organize the effort as a non-profit group. "Our goal is to develop an efficient and cost-effective Internet imagery analysis search process, so that SAR organizations all over the world can take advantage of this innovative way of using technology to assist rescue workers," the site reads.