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NOVA: Manhunt - Boston Bombers

Airs Wednesday, April 29 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: A second explosion goes off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.

Explore the science behind the headlines in PBS’ premier science series. With compelling stories and spectacular visuals, NOVA programs demystify science and technology for viewers of all ages and spotlight people involved in scientific pursuits.

Courtesy of WGBH

FBI agents in Watertown, Mass.

Courtesy of WGBH

Law enforcement searches the hijacked Mercedes SUV.

Courtesy of WGBH

Law enforcement tows the hijacked Mercedes SUV.

Zeroing In On Surveillance Video

New software makes it possible for law enforcement to search through hours of surveillance footage in mere minutes. Learn about the technology in this feature by Matt Bell.

At 2:50 p.m. on April 15, 2013, two bomb blasts turned the Boston Marathon finish line from a scene of triumph to tragedy, leaving three dead, hundreds injured and a city gripped by heartbreak and terror. Less than five days later, the key suspects were identified and apprehended, with one dead, the other in custody. How did investigators transform the chaos of the bombing into a coherent trail of clues, pointing to the accused killers?

In "Manhunt - Boston Bombers," NOVA follows the manhunt step-by-step, examining the role modern technology—combined with old-fashioned detective work—played in cracking the case. Given hundreds of hours of surveillance and bystander videos, how did agents spot the bad guys in a sea of spectators? Why couldn’t facial recognition software I.D. the criminals? How much could bomb chemistry analysis, cell phone GPS, infrared imagery and crowd sourcing reveal about the secrets behind this horrific crime?

With the help of top criminal investigators and anti-terrorism experts, NOVA explores which technological innovations worked—and which didn't—in the most notorious case of today, and how the world of crime fighting could be transformed tomorrow.

Surveillance City

In this interview with "The World's" Marco Werman, NOVA producer Miles O'Brien describes how surveillance footage played a key role in cracking the case of the Boston Marathon bombings. But as O’Brien discovered in the course of reporting this NOVA special, other cities, especially New York City, have surveillance camera networks that are far more advanced than Boston’s hodgepodge system. O’Brien recounts just how powerful those systems are and what that may portend for privacy in the future.

This episode originally aired in 2013.

Past episodes of NOVA are available for online viewing. NOVA is on Facebook, and you can follow @novapbs on Twitter.

Video

Preview: NOVA: Manhunt - Boston Bombers

Above: NOVA follows the manhunt step-by-step, examining the role modern technology — combined with old-fashioned detective work — played in cracking the case. Given hundreds of hours of surveillance and bystander videos, how did agents spot the bad guys in a sea of spectators? Why couldn’t facial recognition software I.D. the criminals? How much could bomb chemistry analysis, cell phone GPS, infrared imagery and crowd sourcing reveal about the secrets behind this horrific crime?