recommended reading

Feds embrace ‘nerds of the Internet’

Nextgov reporter Joseph Marks, Kari Craun, director if USGS' National Geospatial Technology Center and Dominic McDevitt-Parks, resident Wikipedian for the National Archives

Nextgov reporter Joseph Marks, Kari Craun, director if USGS' National Geospatial Technology Center and Dominic McDevitt-Parks, resident Wikipedian for the National Archives // Caitlin Fairchild/

Federal agencies are turning to the public to fill information gaps and promote their data, crowdsourcing experts said at a panel Thursday.

“People who build information are starting to realize the way the Web works now -- it goes beyond their own little website,” said Dominic McDevitt-Parks, resident Wikipedian for the National Archives and Records Administration. The discussion was part of Government Executive Media Group’s Excellence in Government conference.

McDevitt-Parks, who promotes Archives’ data to Wikipedia editors, said more people are accessing his agency’s information through Wikipedia than its own website. received 17 million hits in 2011, while he estimated all the Wikipedia pages hosting Archives data tallied about 1 billion.

The answer, therefore, is to embrace the technology, he said: “If we want to reach the public, then we want to go to Wikipedia.”

The U.S. Geological Survey also is engaging the public for mapping information, testing a pilot program in Denver in which the public provides data such as where post offices and schools are located.

Kari Craun, director of USGS’ National Geospatial Technology Center, said she still has reservations about the long-term viability of the program.

“Over time, we are going to see if this is a sustainable model,” she said. “We’re not sure yet.”

Both speakers vouched for the quality of the product that results from crowdsourcing, stating the criticisms of the publicly collected information are overblown.

“I think we have to change our mindsets,” Craun said.

McDevitt-Parks concurred. “Wikipedia is where the nerds of the Internet go,” he said. “There are actually a lot of people on Wikipedia who know more about the things you are doing than maybe you do.”

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.