Yesterday, in conjunction with the 6th White House Science Fair, the White House announced that the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has partnered with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (WWICS), a Trust instrumentality of the U.S. Government, to launch CitizenScience.gov as the new hub for citizen science and crowdsourcing initiatives in the public sector.
CitizenScience.gov provides information, resources, and tools for government personnel and citizens actively engaged in or looking to participate in citizen science and crowdsourcing projects. This new site represents a collaboration among the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), GSA, WWICS, and employees from across Federal agencies to deliver a powerful approach to scaling citizen science and crowdsourcing approaches in the Federal government. CitzenScience.gov serves as the connecting point to three resources for the Federal community: (1) the first official catalog of government citizen science and crowdsourcing projects, (2) the Federal Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing toolkit, and (3) two important Federal communities including the Federal Community of Practice for Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science (CCS), and the agency citizen science and crowdsourcing coordinators.
Like GSA’s Challenge.gov, another program that increases the government’s ability to reach American innovators of every kind, CitizenScience.gov will continue to evolve to meet the needs of its users both inside and outside of the Federal government.
In conjunction with launching CitizenScience.gov, the GSA and Wilson Center are also coordinating an effort to standardize data and metadata related to citizen science, allowing for greater information exchange and collaboration both within individual projects and across different projects, including projects tracked in similar databases outside of CitizenScience.gov. This effort, which builds off a number of activities outlined in the 2015 memorandum on citizen science from OSTP to Federal departments and agencies, represents a collaboration among Federal agencies, WWICS, and private sector organizations.
The launch of CitizenScience.gov and the Federal government’s work to standardize data and metadata related to citizen science make it easier than ever before for Federal decision makers to leverage opportunities to use citizen science and crowdsourcing to advance their agency missions, and to connect citizen science work happening both inside and outside of the Federal government. The announcement of these efforts coincides with a number of exciting events in the broader citizen science community, including:
Not everyone is a trained scientist, but the use of open innovation allows everyone to contribute to science, engineering, and technology. Citizen science and crowdsourcing are powerful approaches that engage the public and provide multiple benefits to the Federal government, volunteer participants, and society as a whole. Federal agencies and non-governmental organizations have already used these open innovation approaches to mobilize millions of people to accomplish scientific work and other tasks, from improving predictive models for coastal change and vulnerability to extreme storms, to tagging millions of archival records for the National Archives. Better collaboration across sectors, the launching of CitizenScience.gov, and this week’s activities are all signs that citizen science and crowdsourcing will continue to deliver results for government, citizens, and society.
Jenn Gustetic is Assistant Director for Open Innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Kelly Olson is Senior Innovation Advisor at GSA where she oversees both Challenge.gov and CitizenScience.gov.
Anne Bowser is the Co-Director of the Commons Lab at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars.