The National Map
Crowdsourcing is not new to the USGS, but past efforts have been hampered by available technologies. Over the past two decades, the USGS has sponsored various forms of volunteer map data collection projects. These activities have been referred to as crowdsourcing, and the information produced has been called volunteered geographic information (VGI). Unfortunately technology could not keep pace with decreasing USGS resources, and the VGI effort was suspended in 2008.
Today, the perfect storm of improved technology, social media, and ever decreasing resources has once again made crowd-sourcing an attractive option. After several pilot projects to determine the viability of bringing back the volunteer mapping program, The National Map Corps volunteers are successfully editing 10 different structure types in all 50 States, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. Structures include schools, hospitals, post offices, police stations and other important public buildings.Volunteers collect and/or improve structures data by adding new features, removing obsolete points, and correcting existing data using a web-based mapping tool. Both newly collected and modified point features become part of the USGS National Structures Database, The National Map, and ultimately U.S. Topo Maps. Volunteers include youth from various organizations such as 4-H and scouting, retirees, students, and anyone with an interest in contributing. Through their participation, volunteers are able to make significant contributions to the USGS's ability to provide the Nation with accurate mapping information.