Searching for Missing People with Toloka

by Toloka Team on Mar 25th, 2021
Hundreds of thousands of people go missing every year worldwide, and there are many unseen heroes working hard to prevent tragic endings to their stories. At Toloka, we know how technology can benefit people in communication, business, and quality of life — and we also believe that technology can help bring people home. Toloka now offers a way to contribute to search efforts: we have teamed up with the Liza Alert volunteer search-and-rescue team to find missing people. As part of the process, Tolokers can check aerial images for signs of people to boost searches in progress.

Liza Alert's mission

Liza Alert is a nonprofit organization that coordinates volunteers to search for missing people in Russia and neighboring countries of the former USSR, with an alert system similar to Amber Alert in the United States and Europe. 

Liza Alert searches for anyone who has been reported missing in cities or in the wilderness, with priority given to children and the elderly. In the 10 years since Liza Alert was founded, over 100,000 searches have been carried out and more than 85,000 missing people have been found. In locations that are difficult to access on foot, the organization uses drones to capture photos.

Optimizing the search effort

The new collaborative project optimizes searches with image labeling. Tolokers will look at aerial images photographed by drones and mark the ones where they see people.


Experts will then analyze the photos with people in them and decide whether to send a search-and-rescue team to the location. To ensure the quality of results and reduce the number of errors, each photo will be labeled by multiple users. Results from different users will be compared and aggregated.

Toloka plans to review up to 250,000 images per month. In comparison, Liza Alert volunteers managed to check just under 700,000 drone images during the year 2020. By integrating this process in Toloka, the organization can now access a crowdforce with hundreds of people available to check images at the same time. This can dramatically speed up image processing and free up volunteers to focus on more specialized tasks.

Saving time and saving lives

For people lost in the wilderness, every minute counts. A combination of drones and crowdsourcing can streamline the search process and save precious time in getting volunteers to the right location. The images labeled in Toloka will eventually be collected as a dataset and used for training AI.
For Tolokers, the new project is a unique opportunity to make an impact and help save lives.

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Wed Apr 28 2021 16:46:51 GMT+0300 (Moscow Standard Time)