Accelerating Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing to Address Societal and Scientific Challenges

Tom Kalil et al at the White House Blog: “Citizen science encourages members of the public to voluntarily participate in the scientific process. Whether by asking questions, making observations, conducting experiments, collecting data, or developing low-cost technologies and open-source code, members of the public can help advance scientific knowledge and benefit society.

Through crowdsourcing – an open call for voluntary assistance from a large group of individuals – Americans can study and tackle complex challenges by conducting research at large geographic scales and over long periods of time in ways that professional scientists working alone cannot easily duplicate. These challenges include understanding the structure of proteins related viruses in order to support development of new medications, or preparing for, responding to, and recovering from disasters.

…OSTP is today announcing two new actions that the Administration is taking to encourage and support the appropriate use of citizen science and crowdsourcing at Federal agencies:

  1. OSTP Director John Holdren, is issuing a memorandum entitled Addressing Societal and Scientific Challenges through Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing. This memo articulates principles that Federal agencies should embrace to derive the greatest value and impact from citizen science and crowdsourcing projects. The memo also directs agencies to take specific actions to advance citizen science and crowdsourcing, including designating an agency-specific coordinator for citizen science and crowdsourcing projects, and cataloguing citizen science and crowdsourcing projects that are open for public participation on a new, centralized website to be created by the General Services Administration: making it easy for people to find out about and join in these projects.
  2. Fulfilling a commitment made in the 2013 Open Government National Action Plan, the U.S. government is releasing the first-ever Federal Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Toolkit to help Federal agencies design, carry out, and manage citizen science and crowdsourcing projects. The toolkit, which was developed by OSTP in partnership with the Federal Community of Practice for Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science and GSA’s Open Opportunities Program, reflects the input of more than 125 Federal employees from over 25 agencies on ideas, case studies, best management practices, and other lessons to facilitate the successful use of citizen science and crowdsourcing in a Federal context….(More)”