Curious about crowdsourcing: OSTP has a toolkit to help agencies get started

Curious about crowdsourcing? OSTP toolkit can jumpstart efforts

Federal agencies should adopt more citizen science and crowdsourcing projects to address societal and scientific challenges, according to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. In a memo released Sept. 30, OTSP outlined principles agencies should apply in order to encourage and support future projects.

OSTP also unveiled an online study guide to help agencies create and run crowdsourcing and citizen science programs. The Federal Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Toolkit was developed in partnership with the Federal Community of Practice for Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science and the General Services Administration’s Open Opportunities Program. More than 125 federal employees from some 25 agencies helped with development.

The toolkit has step-by-step instructions for planning, designing and executing a crowdsourcing project, as well as case studies to serve as models, success stories and challenges agencies should consider when planning a project. It also provides a database that maps current federal crowdsourcing and citizen science projects.

The toolkit was developed in response to a 2013 Second Open Government National Action Plan that pushed federal agencies to develop an open innovation toolkit.

Some agencies already have a foothold in crowdsourcing. The Bureau of Land Management and NASA, for example, have partnered in a project to model the current and future distributions of freshwater species of concern across large management regions. And at the Sept. 30 forum held to showcase such efforts, presentations were given on projects in Boston, New Jersey and Alaska that address water and agriculture, air quality and pollution.

Other federal agencies that have crowdsourcing projects currently underway include the National Archives and Records Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Agency for International Development and the Department of the Interior.

FCW Editorial Fellow Aleida Fernandez contributed to this report.

About the Author

Derek Major is a former reporter for GCN.

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