Volunteering to Map the Nation

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As the USGS continues to celebrate “Mapping Month”, we again promote noteworthy contributors to The National Map Corps “crowdsourcing” project.

The National Map Corps (TNM Corps) is an online crowdsourcing mapping project with volunteers successfully editing structures in all 50 States, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. As part of The National Map, structures include schools, hospitals, post offices, police stations, cemeteries, and other important public buildings.

The National Map Corps volunteer "meyerkv"
Citizen scientist volunteer “meyerkv” busily editing more points and sporting his special edition “International Year of Mapping Badge”.(Public domain.)

By updating and verifying structures data, volunteers are making significant contributions to USGS National Structures Database, The National Map, and ultimately U.S. Topo Maps. The submitted and approved points from these participants have resulted in updated and enhanced mapping information as well as saving significant taxpayer dollars and man hours.

To reward these novice cartographers, TNM Corps developed a “recognition program” of virtual badges that can be earned as a volunteer reaches certain submission levels. There have been a little more than a dozen committed volunteers who have reached the top award level, submitting more than 6,000 points along with spending time as a senior reviewer and assisting other participants.

Another of our intrepid citizen cartographers is “meyerkv”.  As a long time TNM Corps participant, he has well surpassed the top recognition level and earned the “International Year of Mapping Badge” in a relatively short amount of time. In addition, “meyerkv” has made it a personal mission to systematically work through the structures data in Puerto Rico. So how did he become a very active contributor to improving America’s structure data? His story:

“I’ve always loved maps, aerial imagery, and cartography. In this age of GPS devices, I still believe much can be learned from examining maps. So, I was attracted to The National Map Corps and the ability to volunteer from home.”

“I worked county-by-county as I went through the Mid-Atlantic states, using available databases, and doing a little research on each jurisdiction before editing structures in the county. Since I grew up here and spent most of my life in Virginia and visiting nearby states, I figured it would be a good match to update areas where I had some familiarity with.”

“Another reason for volunteering for theTNM Corps was I wanted to support the Federal government. I worked for several Federal agencies for 34 years before retiring. I started my Federal career working with aerial imagery in the late 1970s while employed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture full time and going to school full time at George Mason University.”

“We used aerial imagery for random sampling of land areas in each of the 50 states for crop surveys. A secondary issue for the USDA in these surveys was to identify resources in rural areas such as fire departments, colleges, schools, police stations, hospitals, cemeteries, etc, available for farmers. We tried to identify these resources with the resources available aerial imagery, topographic maps and phone books.”

“So working with The National Map Corps has been a pleasant flashback to my college days. One of my favorite maps is the historic 1915 USGS 15’ topographic map, Fairfax. This map covers the area near my parents home and it is also halfway in time between the end of the Civil War (another favorite subject) and when we moved to Chantilly in 1965. Many of the roads and structures depicted in Civil War maps and sketches can still be found on the 1915 Fairfax map and several still existed in 1965. It has been fun and educational editing the National Map. Thanks for the opportunity.”

You can join “meyerkv” along with hundreds of other volunteers, and contribute to updating our national mapping data. Sign in and begin editing points today!

Previous “Volunteer Spotlights”

Screenshot of the 1915 Fairfax, Virginia quadrangle
Screenshot of the 1915 Fairfax, Virginia quadrangle cited by “meyerkv”. Scans of USGS legacy topographic maps from the late 1800’s through 2006 are available from the Historical Topographic Map Collection and can be easily accessed by several map tools, to include the improved “TopoView”.(Public domain.)