The app, I Sea, was launched early last week and claimed that users were able to search sections of the Mediterranean Sea for migrant boats and that when they flagged something suspicious the charity Migrant Offshore Aid Station would be alerted and able to send a rescue boat.

It received positive coverage across the media, including in Reuters, the Evening Standard and technology publication, Wired. But technology experts have said that the app is a fake and said that users are not in fact scanning the sea for migrants.

Matt Burke, a developer, has written a summary of the evidence against the app on his blog, explaining that the image seen by users appeared to be the same static image shown to everyone. He concluded that: “It just seems it’s not actually hooked up to anything.”  Technology experts said that the image data was taken from Google maps, meaning that it was out of date, and that the weather report included in the app was actually from a weather station in Libya. The app was removed from Apple’s app store on Monday afternoon.

Grey for Good, the advertising agency behind the app, posted a statement on Sunday 19 June claiming that the app was in “testing mode”.  At this time it is loading and mapping satellite images to its GPS coordinates and users are able to report an anomaly in their plot of sea. The report function is sending out an alert whenever a user flags something in the plot of sea they are watching. During this testing period, the satellite images available are not in real-time. Grey for Good are still working to optimise the technology, but we are proud of what we have achieved so far and are grateful to all those who have shown interest in helping to improve the app further.”

The charity has since told Buzzfeed News that it has asked for its branding to be removed and that they were not involved in the development of the app.

source civil society 21.06.16