The USGS National Geospatial Program (NGP) sponsored various forms of volunteer map data collection projects over the past two decades. Citizen cartographers revised many maps during this period, but the program was suspended in 2008.
New technologies and Internet services have made it easy to georeference many different types of information and share this information with others on map-based Internet platforms and social networking sites in recent years.
This activity has been referred to as crowdsourcing, and the information produced has been called volunteered geographic information (VGI).
In light of this rapidly changing technical landscape, the increasing use of social software for citizen mapping, and the mandates for more transparency and citizen involvement in government, the USGS has revitalized its volunteer program.
As a result, the USGS has launched a pilot project to once again encourage citizen participation.