Making your Mark on a Map: Volunteer map editors contribute more than 300,000 map points

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The USGS citizen science project, The National Map Corps, has reached another major milestone.

The National Map Corps is a citizen science effort which uses crowd-sourcing techniques to collect structures data for The National Map and US Topo maps. Using a web-based mapping application, volunteer map editors provide accurate spatial data for the National Geospatial Program (NGP) by confirming or updating structures data points using authoritative sources or personal knowledge.

The National Map Corps contribution status map, as of Jan 31, 2018
In less than a year-and-a-half after having reached 200,000 "points", TNMCorps volunteers have collected an additional 100,000+ points to support The National Map, pushing the total of submitted points past 300,000.(Public domain.)

Each point that is verified and updated by TNMCorps volunteers represents a structure or manmade feature on a map such as a school, cemetery, hospital, post office, police station and other important public buildings. That data then becomes part of The National Map structures dataset, which is available for download free of charge.

Special recognition patch from The National Map Corps
Special edition TNMCorps patch issued to volunteers who contributed at least 2,016 points during International Map Year.(Public domain.)

To increase participation, functionality, and enhanced user experience, The National Map Corps launched a new and improved web mapping application in the fall of 2016. The new editor features an improved user interface, search capabilities, and background transparencies. Most importantly, the new platform increases the speed with which the data becomes available to the public through The National Map and US Topo maps.

Also in 2016, TNMCorps facilitated a special challenge to celebrate International Map Year. During the course of the challenge, which began on GIS Day (November 18) 2015 and ended on December 31, 2016, volunteers were encouraged to edit 2,016 or more points. The 17 volunteers who met or exceeded that lofty goal were given a limited edition embroidered cloth patch to commemorate their participation in the challenge.

To show each citizen scientist ongoing appreciation for their hard work outside of the occasional special challenge, TNMCorps has established a recognition program that awards “virtual" badges to volunteers. Each unique point edited or confirmed is worth one point towards the badge level. Additionally, volunteers are publically acknowledged (with permission) via Twitter and Facebook.

If you've been inspired to see for yourself what all the excitement is about, then you too can join the hundreds of citizen scientists who are providing accurate mapping information to the public through The National Map and US Topo maps. All you need is access to the Internet, a little bit of time, and a willingness to learn.

To begin participation, go to the online map editor, where you’ll find links to the User Guide, the TNMCorps Q&A page, bi monthly newsletters, and much more. See you on the map!

Virtual award badges from The National Map Corps Volunteer Recognition Program
Virtual recognition awards from The National Map Corps for achieving increasing point levels. First badge, the Order of the Surveyor’s Chain, is for more than 25 points. The highest badge, the Squadron on Biplane Spectators, is earned by volunteers contributing more than 6,000 points.(Public domain.)