National Map Corps Revives Volunteer Mapping Program
November 16, 2012
U.S. Geological Survey is examining the restoration of its popular
volunteer mapping program, The National Map Corps.
In light of swiftly changing technical landscapes and increasing
uses of social networking, the USGS is exploring a new approach
to the volunteer program, and is launching a project to test options
for volunteer participation in providing data to The National Map.
The project involves mapping man-made structures and facilities,
such as cemeteries, schools and fire stations, in the state of Colorado.
Using an internet mapping application, volunteers can help the USGS
update The National Map by correcting or adding information about
"Even members of the public who can't tell a sandstone from a rhyolite
but have internet access can now help the USGS keep its popular
maps up to date through our new experiment in crowd sourcing," said
USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "Correctly locating and identifying
fire stations, police stations, schools, and hospitals not only
makes USGS maps more useful, but can literally save a life."
Over the past two decades, the USGS National Geospatial Program
has sponsored various forms of volunteer map data collection projects.
Volunteers have helped the USGS improve its cartographic products
by annotating paper maps, collecting data using GPS units, and submitting
data using a web-based tool. However, in 2008, the volunteer mapping
program was suspended as new methods for using volunteer data were
In recent years, new web- and mobile-based technologies have made
it easier to create, combine, and share maps. Recent events have
shown how well these technologies support the rapid and relevant
production of geographic information.
If the Colorado pilot project is successful in attracting volunteers
and capturing data for use in The National Map, the program may
be expanded to other areas in the future. This project offers volunteers
an opportunity to participate in providing data to The National
Map and US Topo map products. For more information, interested Colorado
volunteers can visit:
The National Map Corps: