Saturday, June 22, 2013

USGS Needs Help, Seeks Volunteers For The National Map Corps

The USGS is expanding its crowd-sourcing of geographic data and is seeking more volunteers to contribute structures information to 16 more states.

The mapping crowd-sourcing program, known as The National Map Corps (TNMCorps), encourages citizens to collect structures data by adding new features and/or correcting existing data within The National Map database. Structures being mapped in the project include schools, hospitals, post offices, police stations and other important public buildings.

The 16 recently added states needing help with structures are: Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming, bringing the total number of states available for updating to 35.  The final release of states by the end of the year will open up the entire country for volunteer structures enhancement.

Preliminary results of the effort have been very promising. As part of the project pilot, The National Map Corps had 143 volunteers who improved data for more than 6,400 structures in Colorado. The quality of the volunteer data collected met the USGS standards for position, attribution, and completeness.

The release of 19 states last April resulted in an increase of 154 new citizen geographers who have contributed their skills and local knowledge to The National Map.

"We are excited to open the next series states of our volunteer data project" said Elizabeth McCartney, the Volunteer Geographic Information Project Leader. "The response from the original set of states has been encouraging and we hope to have volunteer participation across the entire nation by the end of the year".

The tools on TNMCorps website explain how a volunteer can edit any area, regardless of their familiarity with the selected structures.

The citizen geographers/cartographers who participate in this program will make a significant addition to the USGS's ability to provide accurate information to the public. Data collected by volunteers become part of The National Map structures dataset which is available to users free of charge.

To show appreciation of our volunteer's efforts, The National Map Corps has instituted a recognition program that awards "virtual" badges" to volunteers. The badges consists of a series of antique surveying instruments ranging from a surveyor's chain (25 – 50 points) to the yet to be achieved theodolite (2000+ points). Additionally, volunteers are publically acclaimed.

In a recent development, the 4-H National Headquarters has announced that this year's 4-H National Youth Science Day planned for October 9, 2013 will feature geographic technology projects that are part of The National Map Corps data collection efforts.

Becoming a volunteer for TNMCorps is easy; go to The National Map Corps website to learn more and to sign up as a volunteer. If you have access to the Internet and are willing to dedicate some time to editing map data, we hope you will consider participating!


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