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Crowd-Sourcing the Nation: USGS Seeking More Volunteers

Crowd-Sourcing the Nation: USGS Seeking More Volunteers

The USGS is expanding its crowd-sourcing of geographic data and is seeking more volunteers to contribute structures information to 16 more states.

The mapping crowd-sourcing program, known as The National Map Corps (TNMCorps), encourages citizens to collect structures data by adding new features and/or correcting existing data within The National Map database. Structures being mapped in the project include schools, hospitals, post offices, police stations and other important public buildings.

The 16 recently added states needing help with structures are: Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming, bringing the total number of states available for updating to 35.  The final release of states by the end of the year will open up the entire country for volunteer structures enhancement.

Preliminary results of the effort have been very promising. As part of the project pilot, The National Map Corps had 143 volunteers who improved data for more than 6,400 structures in Colorado. The quality of the volunteer data collected met the USGS standards for position, attribution, and completeness.

The release of 19 states last April resulted in an increase of 154 new citizen geographers who have contributed their skills and local knowledge to The National Map.

“We are excited to open the next series states of our volunteer data project” said Elizabeth McCartney, the Volunteer Geographic Information Project Leader. “The response from the original set of states has been encouraging and we hope to have volunteer participation across the entire nation by the end of the year”.

The tools on TNMCorps website explain how a volunteer can edit any area, regardless of their familiarity with the selected structures.

The citizen geographers/cartographers who participate in this program will make a significant addition to the USGS’s ability to provide accurate information to the public. Data collected by volunteers become part of The National Map structures dataset which is available to users free of charge.

To show appreciation of our volunteer’s efforts, The National Map Corps has instituted a recognition program that awards “virtual” badges” to volunteers. The badges consists of a series of antique surveying instruments ranging from a surveyor’s chain (25 – 50 points) to the yet to be achieved theodolite (2000+ points). Additionally, volunteers are publically acclaimed.

In a recent development, the 4-H National Headquarters has announced that this year’s 4-H National Youth Science Day planned for October 9, 2013 will feature geographic technology projects that are part of The National Map Corps data collection efforts.

Becoming a volunteer for TNMCorps is easy; go to The National Map Corps website to learn more and to sign up as a volunteer. If you have access to the Internet and are willing to dedicate some time to editing map data, we hope you will consider participating!

 Gammarus mucronatus, an amphipod grazer that can promote healthy eelgrass beds. Copyrighted photo courtesy of Matthew Whalen/UC Davis.

Newly added states in purple: Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming.

Currently participating states in green: Arkansas, Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, West Virginia – bringing the total number of states available for updating to 35.  (High resolution image)

USGS Newsroom

More information

Parameter Value Description
Magnitude mb The magnitude for the event.
Longitude ° East Decimal degrees longitude. Negative values for western longitudes.
Latitude ° North Decimal degrees latitude. Negative values for southern latitudes.
Depth km Depth of the event in kilometers.
Place Textual description of named geographic region near to the event. This may be a city name, or a Flinn-Engdahl Region name.
Time 1970-01-01 00:00:00 Time when the event occurred. UTC/GMT
Updated 1970-01-01 00:00:00 Time when the event was most recently updated. UTC/GMT
Timezone offset Timezone offset from UTC in minutes at the event epicenter.
Felt The total number of felt reports
CDI The maximum reported intensity for the event.
MMI The maximum estimated instrumental intensity for the event.
Alert Level The alert level from the PAGER earthquake impact scale. Green, Yellow, Orange or Red.
Review Status Indicates whether the event has been reviewed by a human.
Tsunami This flag is set to "1" for large events in oceanic regions and "0" otherwise. The existence or value of this flag does not indicate if a tsunami actually did or will exist.
SIG A number describing how significant the event is. Larger numbers indicate a more significant event.
Network The ID of a data contributor. Identifies the network considered to be the preferred source of information for this event.
Sources A comma-separated list of network contributors.
Number of Stations Used The total number of Number of seismic stations which reported P- and S-arrival times for this earthquake.
Horizontal Distance Horizontal distance from the epicenter to the nearest station (in degrees).
Root Mean Square sec The root-mean-square (RMS) travel time residual, in sec, using all weights.
Azimuthal Gap The largest azimuthal gap between azimuthally adjacent stations (in degrees).
Magnitude Type The method or algorithm used to calculate the preferred magnitude for the event.
Event Type Type of seismic event.
Event ID Id of event.
Event Code An identifying code assigned by, and unique from, the corresponding source for the event.
Event IDS A comma-separated list of event ids that are associated to an event.

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