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Submission + - 'Focus Aware Marketing' Startup Helped Identify The Boston Bombers (

chicksdaddy writes: There was lots of buzz this week about how Redditors and 4Chan were crowdsourcing the identity of the Boston Marathon bombers. In the end though, those efforts didn't amount to much. Sure, the collective eyeballing and Google dorking of the Internet masses yielded some clues — once images of the bombers had been released. Folks identified the brand of clothing worn by the suspects, as well as new and unseen photos of the two at the scene of the bombing.

Mostly, though, they sowed chaos and confusion, accelerating the spread of inaccurate information and fingering innocent spectators as possible bombers. None of the “suspects” singled out by crowdsourced analysis as “suspicious” are believed to have played a role in the attack.

So how did authorities pick out the two bombers to begin with? That was accomplished, in no small part, with technology by the startup firm CrowdOptic (, a purveyor of what it describes as “focus-based services.”

CrowdOptic's software correlates geospatial and compass data from smart devices and combine that with photos and other metadata ( EXIF information) associated with images. Built in analytics then use triangulation and other algorithms to identify “points of focus” in a crowd.
“Send me 100k images of the Super Bowl and in 1 second (of) server time I can send you the picture/s containing (for example) the halftime show wardrobe malfunction representing the most views,” CEO Jon Fisher told The Security Ledger back in October.

With the Boston bombings, CrowdOptic’s technology played a key role in helping authorities to sift through the photo evidence and metadata collected from the bombing scene. ( In that situation, the bombs’ locations acted as a magnet for all other photos containing bomb location in the photographs of the area before and after the explosions. CrowdOptic’s technology was used to piece together that visual information and give investigators a time lapse not just of the scene, but of people who could have captured an image of the points of interest – even from some distance. That’s information that wouldn’t show up just by collecting geospatial data of those around the bombing site at the time of the blast. That, in turn, quickly revealed the figures of the alleged bombers: Dzhokhor A. Tsarnaev, 19 and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26.

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'Focus Aware Marketing' Startup Helped Identify The Boston Bombers

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