Masdar Institute Faculty Building Team to Participate in Worldwide ‘Tag Challenge’ Competition on 31 March

September 21, 2018

Network of Spotters to Track ‘Jewel Heist Suspects’ in Five Cities across North America and Europe through Social Media

Abu Dhabi-UAE: 26 March, 2012 – Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, an independent, research-driven graduate-level university focused on advanced energy and sustainable technologies, today announced a group of crowd-sourcing experts including one of its faculty, are building a team to participate in a worldwide gaming challenge to track down five ‘suspects’ of a jewel heist in five different cities within 12 hours.

The ‘Tag Challenge’, a not-for-profit, independent event taking place on 31 March, aims to “determine whether and how social media can be used to accomplish a realistic, time-sensitive, international law enforcement goal.”

With a US$5,000-reward, the winning strategy will involve building a network of spotters and teammates for the simulated law enforcement search through social media in each of the five cities including Washington DC, New York City, London, Stockholm and Bratislava in Slovakia. Sponsored by the US State Department and the US Embassy in Prague, the challenge has been created by an international group of graduate students from six countries.

Anyone, resident in these cities or otherwise, can play the game by joining the team to share the reward.

The team being assembled has been dubbed “CrowdScanner”, and anyone can join by visiting http://crowdscanner.net. The site is being built in collaboration with experts from University of Southampton and University of California San Diego.

The team leader, Dr. Iyad Rahwan, Associate Professor – Computing and Information Science, Masdar Institute, said: “Tag Challenge is a competition to gauge how social media can be effectively tapped to locate ‘real life’ culprits. We are developing a website that will enable more people to use social networks and inform their friends about the challenge and try to find the targets. We are confident, with talented spotters, our team will emerge winners in this competition.”

The organizers will post on the website a “mug shot” of each suspect on the day of the event. Each suspect will be wearing a shirt bearing the event logo. The suspect’s face, dress, and the contest logo will be clearly visible in each of the mug shots. Contestants may use only this photograph and any other information provided on the event website to identify each suspect. The photos will be verified through a unique code phrase on both the front and back of the shirt, which is not revealed in a suspect’s mug shot but known only to the organizers. Participants need to make sure that the code phrase is clearly visible in each submission.

In order to win, a participant or team must be the first to successfully locate and photograph all ‘volunteer suspects’ and submit verifiable photographs to the contest organizers.

The enormity of the challenge means that no single person or group of friends can tackle it on their own. Instead, winning is likely to rely on the ability to assemble a very large, ad-hoc team of spotters. A group of crowd-sourcing and social media experts are providing the tool to do just that.

Dr. Manuel Cebrian, winner of the now-famous DARPA Red Balloon Challenge and a member of the CrowdScanner team, said: “We will give the entire reward to the participants who will actually do the work; we will keep nothing.”

Anyone who submits a photograph of a target to CrowdScanner and enable the team to win, will receive IS$500. In addition, if someone invites a friend, and the friend submits a photograph, they get US$500, but the first person also gets US$100. To help spread the word, the recruiters of the first 2,000 members will get US$1 for each person they invite to join the team.

Dr. Cebrian added: “We are not interested in the money; we just want to learn more about the power of social media in information gathering tasks like this one.”