The National Map
The USGS National Geospatial Program (NGP) sponsored various forms of volunteer map data collection projects over the past two decades. Citizen cartographers revised many maps during this period, but the program was suspended in 2008.
New technologies and Internet services have made it easy to georeference many different types of information and share this information with others on map-based Internet platforms and social networking sites in recent years.
This activity has been referred to as crowdsourcing, and the information produced has been called volunteered geographic information (VGI).
In light of this rapidly changing technical landscape, the increasing use of social software for citizen mapping, and the mandates for more transparency and citizen involvement in government, the USGS has revitalized its volunteer program.
As a result, the USGS has launched a pilot project to once again encourage citizen participation.
The future of The National Map Corps
Collaborative pilot projects in Colorado were recently used to test the concept of crowd-sourcing. The volunteers' actions were accurate and exceeded USGS quality standards. The significant results of the Colorado pilot have led to a phased, nation-wide expansion of the crowd-sourcing/volunteer project.
The following states are operational as of April 2013: Arkansas, Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia. By the end of 2013, all 50 states will be available for volunteer data collection.