Step Up to the Challenge

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Volunteer citizen mappers continue to make significant contributions to the USGS’ ability to provide accurate mapping information to the public. Mapping Challenges are launched periodically to focus volunteers on specific points that need editing.

The National Map Corps, a USGS nationwide, volunteer-based mapping project to verify or update structures data, continues to gain popularity. Using “crowdsourcing” techniques, the project has updated thousands of structure points for the USGS National Structures Database, The National Map, and ultimately US Topo Maps.

To complete critical datasets in specific states, TNM Corps periodically issues “Map Challenges” to the registered citizen scientists. Participating in a challenge includes verifying or updating the existing points, adding missing points, and removing obsolete points.

Status graphic of a current Mapping Challenge editing schools in Georgia and South Carolina.

Status graphic of a current Mapping Challenge editing schools in Georgia and South Carolina. (Public domain.)

A point represents a structure or manmade feature on a map such as a school, cemetery, hospital, post office, police station or other important public building. Using an online web mapping application, volunteers research and update data that becomes part of The National Map structures dataset. The dataset is available for download free of charge.

Citizen scientist volunteers earn “virtual badges” as they increase their number of submitted points. Participation is open to all, and more experienced volunteers become senior editors. The only requirements to be an editor are a willingness to learn and access to the internet.

Anyone with an interest in contributing can volunteer. It is easy to sign up and get started! “How to” documentation including a comprehensive User Guide and a Quick Start Guide will have you up and editing quickly. Begin editing in your own hometown or anywhere in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

So are you up for the challenge? Updates on the Mapping Challenges including new areas of interest, status of current focus and series completion will be posted regularly on the USGS Facebook page, The National Map twitter site (@USGSTNM) and The National Map Corps Mapping Challenges website.

Status graphic of The National Map Corps volunteer contributions as of February 29, 2020

Status graphic of The National Map Corps volunteer contributions as of February 29, 2020.  (Public domain.)