How "crowdsourcing" contributes to research and outreach
Public participation in scientific research is a growing trend in our increasingly “crowdsourced” world. Citizen science, as it is called, typically involves data collection by members of the public who pass their information along to researchers trying to answer real-world questions.
Volunteer monitoring has contributed for many years to diverse fields ranging from astronomy to medicine and computer science to natural resource management. Volunteers benefit from opportunities for informal education, while contributing to outreach efforts that promote public understanding of scientific issues.
Citizen Science at NOAA
A NOAA Citizen Science Community of Practice was launched in the fall of 2013 to promote sharing and collaboration among projects. This effort relies on grassroots participation and focuses on three elements: compiling and sharing best practices, sharing resources, and creating a searchable database of NOAA's citizen science projects.
Currently, more than 65 citizen science projects within NOAA provide opportunities for people to engage in scientific investigation. At NOS, popular citizen science projects include:
A citizen science application to report water levels is available online, anyone can submit a water level report from their mobile device. This application collects photographs and associated GPS locations of water levels. Learn more.
The Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project, or MDMAP, is a citizen science initiative that engages NOAA partners and volunteers across the nation to survey and record the amount and types of marine debris on shorelines. Learn more.
Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, the Elkhorn Slough Foundation, and the Monterey County Water Resources Agency have supported this volunteer water monitoring program since 1988. Learn more.
The Long-term Monitoring Program and Experiential Training for Students) is an environmental monitoring and education program involves students, educators, and volunteer groups across California. Learn more.
The Guam Community Coral Reef Monitoring Program (GCCRMP), launched in 2012, is highly active in the community and continues to grow in its outreach and reef management capabilities every year. Learn more.
The Channel Islands Naturalist Corps, a joint volunteer program between Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park, offers a new training class every two years. Learn more.