5 Thieves, 5 Cities, 12 Hours: Can Twitter Catch Them?

by Kathleen Hickey, Government Computer News 

The U.S. State Department’s Tag Challenge will offer a $5,000 prize to anyone who can use Twitter and other social media and online tools to track down five fictional jewel thieves at large in Washington, D.C., New York, London, Stockholm, and Bratislava, Slovakia.

Participants will be given mug shots and brief descriptions of each thief, and tasked to locate the suspects, photograph them, and upload the images, with the winner being the first one to upload all five photos within a 12-hour window.

The contest will start at 8 a.m. local time in each of the five cities, when the mug shots of each suspect will be posted, and run until 8 p.m. The suspects are volunteers who will be on the move during the day, traveling predetermined routes that could include riding public transportation, going to coffee shops or visiting parks, according to the contest’s website. Contestant must use only the mug shot and other information provided by the contest website to identify the suspects.

The contest’s purpose is to demonstrate social networks’ ability to uncover information via sharing and spreading data. “It has become increasingly obvious over the past few years that open source information, especially in an age of social networking, can be at least as valuable as classified information,” said former U.S. counterintelligence executive Marion Bowman.

The contest was inspired by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s 2009 DARPA Network Challenge, in which contestants had to use the Internet to find the whereabouts of 10 weather balloons scattered across the continental U.S. A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology won the $40,000 prize by finding the balloons in a matter of hours. The contest begins March 31.  Report

DCL: Could the contestants use CEP to aid their search and recognition?

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