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There’s an app for that

I SEA puts the eyes of the world to work saving migrants

Last year, more than 300,000 migrants took to small, overcrowded boats attempting to cross the Mediterranean — fleeing conflict, poverty, and war, but facing the vast uncertain expanse of the sea. More than 5,000 of them died at sea. And while search and rescue teams are out in force, scanning the waters of the hazardous crossing routes for migrants in peril, they only have so many sets of eyes.

Until now, that is. A new app called I SEA could revolutionize the way these kinds of searches are carried out. I SEA takes real-time satellite imagery of the Mediterranean and splits it into millions of “plots” that are distributed across the I SEA userbase. Users can search their plot in detail for boats in distress, flag their GPS coordinates, and report the sightings directly to offshore aid stations.


PRO Crowdsourcing the search for migrants could save thousands of lives, and using I SEA to pitch in on the effort feels like a lot more active a way to help than sending donations (though you should do that, too).

CON You’ll need your passport number to report sightings. It’s a good deterrent for abuse of the app, but it’s still an unusual bit of data to send into the ether.


Michael Andor Brodeur can be reached at mbrodeur@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MBrodeur.