Volunteering for Science

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Citizen Scientists edit structures to improve US Topo Maps and along the way earn virtual badges.

The USGS crowdsourcing project called The National Map Corps uses volunteer citizens interested in accurate cartography to validate or edit structures to improve USGS topographic map products.

To reward and recognize those contributors, TNM Corps assigns points to the submissions which lead to virtual badges that increase with continued point acceptance.

photo of volunteer rjerrard with special patch
“rjerrard” proudly poses with his special edition “International Year  of Mapping ” badge. He comments: “My virtual travels around the country have been an education, and here is my diploma: The USGS National Map Corps volunteer patch!”(Public domain.)

One of the more active data providers to reach the top award, the Squadron of Biplane Spectators, goes by the handle of ‘rjerrard.’ His story:

 “I’m a lifelong cartography enthusiast and mapmaker. I mostly do hobby mapping but have done small commercial projects. I am on the USGS website frequently, looking at quadrangles of interest.”

“Recently they added the historic, older maps and this has been a new source of fascination (there’s a tip for you checkers of ancient, abandoned cemeteries not shown on the ‘classic’ topos), I noticed The National Map Corps project, and added a few points. I never thought I would stick with it for long, but I’ve found it remarkably educational to review diverse areas and see how they manage resources to serve the changing demographics of our society.”

“Some of the changes I've observed include the transition of the Nashville, Tennessee area to a metropolitan police organization; the all-in adoption of K-8 school construction (replacing elementary and junior high schools) in Toledo, Ohio; and the national trend of charter schools, evident in Minneapolis and many other places. The USGS mapping challenges are fun, and you can use them to collect points toward winning your own patch. Try one of the challenges soon! And it’s just fun to play with the icons and aerial images!”

You can join rjerrard along with hundreds of other volunteers, and contribute to The National Map. Sign in and begin editing points today!

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