An Inventory of Federal Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing

The Second Open Government National Action Plan for the United States of America suggests:

"Public participation in scientific research, one type of crowdsourcing known as ‘citizen science’, allows the public to make critical contributions to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math by collecting, analyzing, and sharing a wide range of data. The administration will expand its use of crowdsourcing and citizen science to further engage the public in problem solving.”

Specific initiatives to empower students through citizen science and crowdsourcing are highlighted in an OSTP fact sheet published in March 2015. These initiatives include new collaborations between existing citizen science projects and federal agencies, support for data collection through low-cost sensors and measurement kits, a lending library of research tools, and new software to help student volunteers collect and map citizen science data.

These developments will support existing projects, and inspire new initiatives. The Commons Lab Inventory seeks to support federal engagement in citizen science and crowdsourcing by:

  • Characterizing the value and diversity of federal citizen science. The Commons Lab will provide a web application and publish a policy brief describing the landscape of federal citizen science, highlighting demonstrated and potential impacts, and revealing common partnership models between agencies and sectors.

  • Supporting coordination within and between agencies. The Commons Lab Inventory will reduce search costs for agencies seeking collaborators, exemplar projects, research data and results, and other resources.

  • Facilitating public analysis and engagement. Through our interactive mapping tool, policymakers and the public may explore the range of citizen science projects. Individuals may also use this tool to find projects to contribute to.

The soft launch of the Commons Lab Inventory will occur on April 1st, 2015. Following the soft launch, we invite all federal agencies invovled in citizen science or crowdsourcing to share their projects through an interactive web form. The months of April, May, and June will be devoted to data collection and analysis. The inventory, and an accomponying policy brief, will be formally released on July 4th, 2015.  

Data collected for this project will be shared with partner organizations including, the Citizen Science Association, and Please contact Anne Bowser,, to find out more information about these efforts.