Boston bombing: How public's photos, videos will be used to help

(CBS News) The FBI is asking for any videos or photos that could lead to a suspect in the Boston Maraton bombing. Investigators already have hundreds of images to comb through.

The investigation is just beginning, CBS News senior correspondent John Miller said on "CBS This Morning."

"What they're starting to find are images from security cameras that show them people that might be the bomber, and they're trying to get those down to where can we find more images that can give us more clues to that," Miller said. "And they're starting to find physical evidence of those bombs, which they now know more about. That's evidence that could yield other clues, fingerprints, DNA and things when they get to the FBI lab. This is a critical but beginning stage."

The FBI has asked anyone with photos from the marathon route's finish line to send them to authorities, but how will they handle the avalanche of data and pixels? It's an unprecedented challenge.

As investigators search for physical evidence at the scene, they will also search through the thousands of photos and frames of video they can get from bystanders and the more than 600 surveillance cameras in the area.

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"This is the most complex crime scene we've ever had to deal with," Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis said Tuesday.

Former FBI Deputy Director Tim Murphy called the effort an "overwhelming task."

One of the first times the FBI called upon the public to collect a mass amount of imagery was the 1996 bombing in the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, but the images did not reveal a photo of the bomber.

But these days, almost everyone carries a device that can capture images. In 2011, when police reached out to the public for video after the riots in Vancouver, Canada, they were overwhelmed with 5,000 hours of footage. It helped them identify some of the people behind the worst violence. Now, in Boston, they're hoping that someone took a picture of the bomber.

Murphy said all of the thousands of pieces of information and tips from the public will become part of a repository. He said, "They'll be able to search across links. And the system itself will make links. Whether it's a person, place or thing, there are searches that are done to see if this name or this location or this information has come up in other cases, and you can do a Google-like search across this information. And that will connect the dots for you."

The picture those dots create will be complex; investigators want it all. In a statement Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder said, "In an investigation of this nature, no detail is too small."