Can a U.S. Department of State contest catch fugitives using crowdsourcing? TheTag Challenge, launching later this month, is designed to find out. Here's the fictional set-up for the Challenge: five jewel thieves have stolen the world's third-most valuable diamond from a Washington, D.C. showroom. The State Department will upload a mug shot and short bio of five "suspects", who are now scattered across the world in Washington, D.C., New York, London, Stockholm, and Bratislava. Whoever finds and photographs all five of them first will be given a $5,000 prize.
The idea is partly inspired by the Network Challenge, a U.S.-wide hunt for ten red balloons created by DARPA in 2009. Experts said that finding all the balloons was "impossible by conventional intelligence-gathering methods". But it only took the MIT Red Balloon Challenge Team a total of nine hours to locate them all. If the Tag Challenge results in swift and successful tracking of five international fugitives, it could have an impact on how law enforcement officials think about social networking and public involvement in cases.
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