NASA: Crowdsourcing for Science

We have talked before about the power of crowdsourcing both as a source of funding and data – now a new project from NASA is seeking to draw on the wisdom of crowds.  Accessing that wisdom is very much an issue of public policy:

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is on a mission to study the entire sky to search for clues about the formation the solar system. However, the agency lacks the technical capacity and manpower to sift through all this data and identify any promising leads. Fortunately, over30,000 members of the public have volunteered to analyze this data and are helping NASA make much greater headway on its mission that it could on its own. For these and other projects, “citizen scientists” voluntarily collect and analyze data on behalf of the government. However, until recently agencies have lacked explicit authorization to take advantage of citizen science, limiting the government’s ability to solve problems in innovative ways. New guidance from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and newly proposed legislation aim to both authorize and encourage agencies to work with citizen scientists. As it becomes easier than ever for the public to collect, analyze, and share data that has important public value, the federal government should embrace the concept of citizen science and engage the public to solve tough problems.

This is a drastic policy step, undertaken by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), with the aim of merging public and governmental technical expertise, in addressing national issues.

You can read more about both the Obama administration’s approach to this sort of  collaboration and about the specific NASA project here.

H/T: Sarah Mirembe, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, MPP Candidate, ’16. 


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