A new resource launched by the US Federal Government today will provide a big boost to citizen science efforts in America.
The Federal Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Toolkit is designed to help government agencies — and anyone else who cares to learn from the publicly accessible site — properly design, launch, and track citizen science and crowdsourcing projects.
The kit includes a step-by-step listing of best practices, links to related laws and policies, and a fairly extensive resource library.
More interesting for citizen science advocates, the kit also includes more than two dozen case studies of successful citizen science projects. The intent of the case studies is to spotlight success stories, and demonstrate the value of citizen science to both science and society in general.
Indeed, according to an official memorandum from John P. Holdren of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), there is also quantifiable economic value in citizen science. “Citizen science and crowdsourcing projects can enhance scientific research and address societal needs while drawing on previously underutilized resources. For example, after analyzing 338 citizen science biodiversity projects around the world, researchers at the University of Washington estimated that the in-kind contributions of 1.3–2.3 million citizen science volunteers to biodiversity research have an economic value of up to $2.5 billion per year.”
The release of the toolkit coincides with an official policy announcement from OSTP, which encourages government agencies to name a citizen science coordinator, and list their citizen science projects on a new central database to make it easier for citizens to find projects.