Open Innovation: Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science at the CDC

While only a fraction of Americans are trained as professional scientists, everyone can contribute to science and technology through open science and innovation approaches such as crowdsourcing and citizen science (CCS).

CDC’s Innovation Team can help CDC programs explore how to incorporate CCS into their work through policy development, technical assistance, and consultation. This team is the agency’s point of contact for CCS; Diana Bartlett is the CCS Coordinator for CDC.

CDC programs supporting CCS activities disclose their work to the Innovation Team for public reporting through

Current CDC-sponsored projects reported through, April 2016:


Sponsoring Program Project Title
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) ATSDR Environmental Odors Website
National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases CDC Overview of Influenza (Flu) Surveillance in the United States
FluSight: Flu Forecasting | CDC
National Center for Emerging Zoonotic and Infectious Diseases U.S.-Mexico Border Early Warning Disease Surveillance for Dengue and Chikungunya
Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health, CDC, Department of Agriculture GenomeTrakr Network

Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing Resources

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What is Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing?

Citizen Science Crowdsourcing Prizes/Challenges
Citizen science encourages members of the public to voluntarily participate in the scientific process. Whether by asking questions, making observations, conducting experiments, collecting data, or developing low-cost technologies and open-source code, members of the public can help advance scientific knowledge and benefit society. Through crowdsourcing – an open call for voluntary assistance from a large group of individuals – individuals can study and tackle complex issues by conducting research over large geographic areas and over long periods of time in ways that professional scientists working alone cannot easily duplicate. Examples can include understanding the structure of protein-related viruses in order to support development of new medications, or preparing for, responding to, and recovering from disasters. Prizes and challenges, forms of crowdsourcing, enable the Federal government to tap into the expertise and creativity of the public in new ways. Challenges are competitions among individuals, communities, government entities, businesses, institutions, or non-profit organizations that can foster collaboration and participation in government activities through the process of co-creation to achieve defined goals in a defined timeframe. To encourage participation, challenges and competitions offer a variety of “prizes” including cash or recognition. Challenges can range from fairly simple idea suggestions, creation of logos, videos, digital games, and mobile applications to more complex proofs of concept, designs, or finished products that solve the grand challenges of the 21st century. CDC posts its challenges in Federal Register Notices.