Searching for MH370 — using open web resources

Over the weekend, authorities released new data on the possible last known location of missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. I put that data into Google Earth, as that is the best search tool for crowdsourced efforts. But this morning at Äventyret, we decided to also put all potential landing sites in range of that flight in Google Earth.

Fortunately, a lot of the work was already done. OurAirports keeps a downloadable global database of airports, both large and small, open and closed. We modified the dataset to keep all Asian airports, but removed Russian airports and added Western Australian airports. We then imported this data into Google Outreach’s Spreadsheet Mapper, which is a tool for converting spreadsheet data into a format usable by Google Earth. The result: Over 3500 potential landing sites in range of MH370.

Here is the KMZ file, to download and open in Google Earth. Read more about the process here.


It’s really remarkable what resources we have at our disposal on the open web: A global dataset of airports, a virtual Earth full of high-resolution imagery, and the tools to visualize one on top of the other. And yet it’s worth being humble about the limits of this technology too — after all, MH370 is still missing.

/ Posted by Stefan Geens (Employee 2014-2017)