Massive citizen smartphone photo and video probe underway into Boston bombings

Massive citizen smartphone photo and video probe underway into Boston bombings

FBI will process photos and videos and 'go through every frame' to seek evidence, officials say

Following the deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon, investigators mounted a massive investigation that includes close scrutiny of digital photos and videos taken about the time of the blasts from citizen smartphones and area surveillance cameras.

"It's our intent to go through every frame of every video we have," said Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis told reporters in a news conference in Boston.

FBI officials have set up a hot line at 1-800-Call-FBI to let investigators know of images taken in the area. The FBI has posted a statement saying "no piece of information or detail is too small" to report.

FBI Special Agent Rich DesLauriers said "assistance from the public remains critical" to the investigation. He added that the FBI had received "voluminous tips" in the first 18 hours after the bombings that killed three and injured 173 others.

The digital videos and photos will be processed at FBI headquarters in Quantico, Virginia. In addition to the images and videos received from citizens, the agency will study the output from surveillance cameras located at stores and businesses in a 12-block area near the Marathon finish line where the two blasts occurred about 2:50 pm Monday.

Investigators said that citizen photos and videos need not be only from the finish line area, and can be from before and after the blasts.

Davis said the crime scene under investigation extends for 12 blocks in the Back Bay area of Boston. "It's the most complex crime scene in [Boston police] history," he said.

Analysts said the extent of the digital investigation will be vast, given the number of surveillance cameras and people with smartphones.

An image of a man on a nearby Boston rooftop about the time of the bombings has gone viral. The FBI has refused to comment on the image.

The FBI is heading up a joint task force that includes city and state police from Massachusetts, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agency and others.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is

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