What is crowdsourcing? Here is what the Wikipedia says:
Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers. Often used to subdivide tedious work or to fund-raise startup companies and charities, this process can occur both online and offline.
There are two prominent cicada crowdsourcing efforts you can take part in!
First, there is the Cicada Tracker project:
The group Radiolab is hoping you’ll build what they call a cicada tracker. A cicada tracker will measure the temperature of the soil and report that back to Radiolab, to help estimate the arrival of the cicadas. Here is a short video about the project:
Throughout April there will be events where you can get to together with other cicada enthusiasts, and build cicada trackers. See their website for more details.
Second, there is Magicicada.org.
Magicicada.org is a website where you can report and map cicada emergences in your area. I strongly suggest that everyone visits that site to report their cicada sightings. Your reports will be used to build new and better maps of the periodical cicada populations in the U.S.A.
When you visit their site, look for this icon, click it and enter your report:
Information needed for the report include location (GPS coordinates, or simple street address), and what you observed: was it a nymph or adult, how many were there, etc. I think they’ll even have a Google maps interface to help you locate your sighting.