Networked City has operated as a loose framework within which people, projects and organisations can learn how to use mapping, network building, data and technology for community and social benefit.
We began the Networked City exploration in December 2016, initially funded by the London Council for Voluntary Service. We paused development in 2020, but aim to restart in 2022. The London Society theme for 2022 Connections: Londoners strong together should provide some inspiration.
The context in 2016 was proposals from London funders and partners, called The Way Ahead, which stressed the importance of a community-based approach, and co-production, in plans to support civil society. Our aim was to explore how network thinking and digital technology could help.
Over the past the 18 month our group, operating as Connecting Londoners, has included at various times David Wilcox, Drew Mackie, Matt Scott, Barbara Brayshay, Nicolas Fonty, Pete Burden and others.
HEAR Mapping and Networks for Solidarity and Campaigning
We have a practical outcome from the Networked City exploration. Drew Mackie and David Wilcox are working with four equalities networks, on a two-year programme funded by Big Lottery.
As project leader Christine Goodall says, the aim is to “co-produce with small and user-led equality organisations in London a system that uses digital tools to build and strengthen their networks, enable better connections for collaboration, campaigning and solidarity, and enhance their voice and influence”.
“The project will also have a key aim of sharing learning throughout the project, building a repository of resources that will be made widely accessible”.
Games, apps and maps for the Commons
We are developing the idea of “Commons” as environments for conversation and collaboration, with games to enable the design and development through the use of maps, apps, stories and self-organising. We are building on earlier Living Lab games, and now have a prototype app through pro bono support from Founders and Coders More here.
Mapping the Commons
In Islington we been working with The Peel Institute on their Connecting Clerkenwell programme, and then on various forms of mapping to display local heritage. You can see a Google Earth flyerover, Story Maps and a gallery, with 360 photos and video on this demonstration site.
Hub and platform model for the Commons
Our work in Clerkenwell, and before that with the Thames Ward Community Project in Barking, provided inspiration for for a model of mapping, communications and storytelling to support local action. The draft model is here.
People Power Platform
David Wilcox is a part of a group that has met twice to discuss models for civil society infrastructure, following the Civil Societies Future report. As I blogged here in January Steve Wyler proposed the idea of a People Power Grid, which chimes with our Networked City ideas. In subsequent discussion Platform was favoured more than grid. There's scope for joining these ideas up with last year's Social Power Report from the Sheila McKecknie Foundation, and the Compass 45°change pamphlet.
The Networked City exploration.
The Way Ahead and Hub for London
The Way Ahead initiative, led by London Funders, LVSC and Greater London Volunteering, produced a report in April 2016 on how to reframe support for London civil society. This report proposed.
a vision and system that puts London’s communities at the heart of the way we all work. From co-producing an understanding of need and how to tackle it with our communities, through to better sharing of intelligence and data, and making sure that civil society’s voice is heard in decision-making at a strategic level, there are recommendations for us all.
This provided the context for the Networked City exploration.
The main recommendation in The Way Ahead report was for a London resource hub, and in November 2017 the City Bridge Trust announced first year funding of £350,000.
In May 2018 the Hub advertised a Network Partners role. The recruitment pack reflects some of the ideas discussed with the Hub advisory group. Details of Networks partner role at the Hub here. Leah Whittingham was appointed to the post.
More here on the Hub and The Way Ahead
Connecting Londoners was formed from people in the Networked City exploration who wanted to put into practice ideas about mapping assets and networks, building networks and developing networked communications. We took the name from a report by consultant Steve Wyler, commissioned by LVSC, that made proposals for the Hub recommended in The Way Ahead report. We created a blog, and collaborated with Our Way Ahead on events.
This group is now superceded by the proposed network.
Our Way Ahead
Our Way Ahead was formed by London networks and community groups as a response to The Way Ahead reports and development. The statement of purpose says:
Decisions have been taken in the name of communities without their involvement, poverty pervades ever deeper, inequality is rising, and lives have been lost as services fail those most vulnerable. Our vision is to ensure that grassroots communities have a meaningfully powerful agency in the response to issues that affect their lives. It is those at the level of grassroots communities, the direct burden takers, who are best placed to lead the push for change, and the OWA Planning Group seek to work in solidarity with them through the facilitation of critical dialogue and storytelling, mapping of community activity and the support of collaboration on campaigns among groups within like communities of interest.
Many of the proposals reported here have been developed with Our Way Ahead, together with a series of events.
Network and Communities of Practice
We developed proposals for the Hub for London on a Community of Practice of mappers, network builders and civic tech specialists to support new stage development of civil society infrastructure. We discussed these ideas further at an event of March 27 2018, and created a map of potential CoP members. We are now thinking in terms of a network with a number of communities of practice.
How games and simulations can help us understand and plan network developments
Networks and mapping