The National Map Corps (TNMCorps) volunteers continue to make significant additions to the U.S. Geological Survey’s ability to provide accurate mapping information and data to the public.
Using crowd sourcing techniques, volunteers have verified, corrected, or collected more than 62,000 manmade structures providing accurate and authoritative data for the National Geospatial Program’s web-based The National Map (TNM) and ultimately US Topo maps
Structures include schools, hospitals, post offices, police stations, and other important public places. The data currently being collected by volunteers becomes part of TNM Structures dataset which is made available to users free of charge.
Since May 2013 TNMCorps has recognized citizen volunteers with a series of virtual recognition badges. The original seven recognition categories range from 25 to 2000+ points; the images themselves are line drawings from a 1909 Keuffel & Esser catalog of drafting and surveying instruments.
Each badge comes with a description of the item and encouragement to achieve the next level. As a volunteer attains each level, a congratulatory email is sent, and the accomplishments are recognized via The National Map Twitter (#TNMCorps). In addition, volunteers reaching the prestigious Theodolite Assemblage (2000+) are featured (with permission) on the USGS facebook page.
With the overwhelming response from dedicated volunteers it soon became apparent that additional categories were necessary. The first volunteer to reach the highest recognition level, the Theodolite Assemblage, did so on July 3, 2013 just two months after the start of the recognition program! We have now added four new categories that will be used to recognize the extraordinary effort of a handful of volunteers up to the 6000+ points achievement level.
The first set of recognition badges features antique surveying equipment. The new recognition badges take to the air and are based on early aerial observation of the Earth’s surface. Badges include the balloon that took the first aerial image, a pigeon with an attached camera, a rudimentary rocket, and a biplane with a cameraman leaning out the cockpit. Get more information about these icons by visiting the recognition badge pictures featured on this page.
Though there was some interest in using pigeons for reconnaissance purposes during both of the World Wars, the airplane proved to be more reliable. The use of pigeon-based photographs was most popular at fairs and exhibitions where individuals could purchase freshly produced aerial images in the form of postcards, some of which included the pigeon’s wingtips in the margin of the photograph.
The Maul Camera Rocket was developed by German engineer Alfred Maul in 1904. The Maul Camera Rocket was one of the first such devices that produced sharp images due to Maul’s innovation of using gyroscopes to stabilize the rocket and fins to prevent rotation of the rocket. The history of rocket cameras was short due to the development of the airplane.
World War I saw the first use and rapid development of airplane- based photographic reconnaissance, which proved to be the most reliable way to obtain aerial photography. Both sides of the conflict used aerial photographs to monitor the expansion of trenches and troop movements. From these activities during war time evolved the science of photogrammetry.
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