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.
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.
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.