USGS receives 100,000 Map Points from citizen scientists


The USGS just released the findings from last year’s citizen scientist cartography project.

‘The National Maps Corps’ is what the USGS is calling the project. It is a way for anyone to get involved in expanding, improving, and updating the existing USGS maps. In less than two years, more than 100,000 points were collected by volunteers.

The website states: “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 making significant contributions to the USGS’s ability to provide the Nation with accurate mapping information.”

Beginning as a series of pilot projects in 2011, The National Map Corps has grown state-by-state to include the entire U.S. By August of 2013, volunteers were editing in every state in the country and the US territories. To date, the number of active volunteers has grown to 930 individuals, including some extremely energetic participants who have collected in excess of 6,000 points.”

“I am 80 years old. I work three days a week for a golf course trapping moles and gophers”, said a very prominent citizen scientist volunteer who goes by the handle of “Mole Trapper”. “I spent 11 years volunteering for a fish and wildlife agency. When the big landslide at Oso, Washington happened, I went on the USGS website and discovered the map corps. I worked summers while in high school for a surveyor who was very precise and he told me an inaccurate survey is worthless. I hate inaccurate maps, so this program was just right for me. I hope my work is as accurate as it can be, but if it isn’t, I plead old age.”

If you collect enough points, the USGS will deliver public praise via Facebook or Twitter. Grandpa, you’re gettin’ a tweet!

Though the press release makes the program sound like it’s for retired folk. If you’re bored, I’m sure they would love your help.


About Author

Marc is the founder of The Crux Collective. In addition to playing in the mountains, he loves media creation. His vision for Crux Collective is to bring a fresh, modern approach to our outdoor world. Marc is based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Twitter: @brewingdigital

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