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A network and Communities of Practice for maps, networks and civic tech

Drew Mackie and David Wilcox May 2018


Here's how we aim to build a network and to support Communities of Practice for people interested in maps, apps and storytelling.

Over the past 18 months we have explored how touse a range of methods to build more inclusive communities and stronger civic networks. At an event in March 2018 we began the process of building a learning network for those interested.

The first step was, naturally enough, to build a map using a combination of the Sumapp survey tool and Kumu mapping software. Here's how we did that.

The next step is to invite people to the Networked City online forum

Our aim is to use the map as the basis to build the network, because it shows people's interests and needs, and the connections that they have. We can ask people to add connections that they would like to make.

We also hope to connect with Unlocking Networks, and explore how to combine their network building methodology with network mapping.

Our original idea - covered below - was to develop a Community of Practice. It now seems more appropriate to develop a network, and then help people form specific communities of practice around mapping, network building, storytelling, civic tech and other topics - through the forum, and meetups.

There's now scope to move from exploration to action by:

  • Helping join up Communities of Practice and events
  • Connecting with the work of the new Hub for London
  • Practical demonstrations of mapping and network building.

Joining up Communities of Practice and events

Here's some of the activities that are beginning to join up:

During the Networked City exploration we developed the idea of a Community of Practice (CoP) as an input to the Hub for London, that is developing support systems for civil society. More below. The Hub recently advertised the role of Networks Partner role, which includes many of those ideas.

The Unlocking Networks initiative, funded by Power to Change, recently published a handbook and toolkit for network building, and set up a Slack team for their Community of Practice.

The tech coop Outlandish has started a wide-reach programme of events in its Space4 co-working space, bringing together many of these interests.

Newspeak House, a community space for political technologies has a further programme of events, and hosted the launch of Networked City and our event on March 27 2018.

At the March event we developed map of London mappers and network builders. About the same time Superhighways developed a map of people attending the voluntary and community sector tech camp. Drew Mackie design both mapping surveys.

Networks Partner role at the Hub

David Wilcox, while member of the advisory group to the Hub for London, developed proposals on how to extend the hub by network building, and how to develop a community of pra ctice to support that.

Many of these ideas are now recognised in the role of Networks Partner advertised by the Hub. The responsibilities are:

  1. To offer support to civil society groups through the development and coordination of networks and forums, and by supporting existing networks (i.e. CVS Directors and Volunteer Centre networks) with a focus on co-production
  2. To harness the use of technology and develop new online forums and networks where civil society groups and partners can network and communicate
  3. To support on the development of new alliances where a need is identified
  4. To identify and link various networks to strategic leads across London via signposting and liaison
  5. To develop and expand existing partnerships to increase collaboration and the sharing of resources
  6. To establish new partnerships across London based upon key thematic programmes of work
  7. Provide a range of training and support programmes in line with the needs of the civil society groups and networks, including sourcing trainers, venues and implementing an evaluation process
  8. To identify training gaps and develop a training and development strategy to support the needs of the civil society within London
  9. Develop key programmes of work to share best practice and profile minimum standards for civil society organisations (i.e. minimum standards for organisations working with volunteers)
  10. Create online resources hubs, whereby materials, research and best practice models can be shared and used to inform future developments

However, the developments needed cannot be achieved solely through one post at the Hub. We need a community and network of change agents, with skills in network mapping and building, digital technology and self-organising, to work with those already engaged in the field.

See also ideas from Nicolas Fonty and Barbara Brayshay for a Metropolitan Civic Platform

We discussed these ideas further at an event of March 27 2018, and created a map of potential CoP members. We will shortly invite them to join our forum and develop CoP plans further.

Demonstration projects

At an event at Outlandish Space4 we developed ideas for building on the work of Justmap and JustSpace in mapping community campaigns, and network mapping undertaken by Drew Mackie and David Wilcox.


The context for these proposals for a Community of Practice is threefold:

  • plans by London Funders and Greater London Volunteering to develop a Hub for London as a resource centre for London civil society. This was the key recommendation from a report on The Way Ahead
  • an exploration by Connecting Londoners and Our Way Ahead concluding that a networked approach is needed, complementing or extending the work of the Hub.

As a member of the advisory group for the Hub for London, representing Our Way Ahead until February 2018, I prepared a paper that aimed to draw together all recommendations and find common ground between The Way Ahead initiative, Connecting Londoners and Our Way Ahead.

I presented the final proposals for a CoP - 4 below - at a meeting of the advisory group on February 1. The group agreed to consider them further. I retired from the group because I want to promote the idea of the CoP independently, and as a freelance feel there could be conflict of interest in seeking funding.


cop/copindex.1527685989.txt.gz · Last modified: 2018/05/30 13:13 by davidwilcox