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Networks and social ecosystems

Mapping and development of networks underpins a lot of our current work on localities as social ecosystems.

We are working on two fronts:

  • Local mapping to help connect people and organisations in neighbourhoods and boroughs
  • Mapping of pan-London networks - update here

In each instance we are working with both geographic maps and network maps. Here's how we are building network maps.

Connecting local communities

In local communities maps and online systems may help residents and others find out more about what's happening in the area, share ideas and information, and collaborate on improvements. For example, we are currently developing a pilot system in Thames Ward, Barking, using maps and online systems to complement existing communications and meetings. It will be designed and run by residents, with support from the Thames Ward Community Project. When fully developed, the system could be used to address issues like:

  • What facilities are there in the area, and what's missing
  • What's happening in the area
  • What concerns do people have, and how might we tackle them
  • Who is interested in what - and how can we get together
  • How can we increase the profile of groups or organisations
  • How can we engage people's interest in community action
  • How can we support people in using new ways to connect

The system won't aim to replace existing communications, like WhatsApp and Facebook groups. It will gather and organise information about the area, and add more methods for connecting, where needed. We will develop live demonstrations on three fronts:

  • Maps showing what's happening, who's who, and how to improve connections
  • A dashboard of information about the area
  • Additional tools and methods for connecting

Creating geographic maps

Drew Mackie and David Wilcox are working with Barbara Brayshay to build on the work of JustMap in creating geographic maps. For example, here's an online map of the StARTNetwork in Tottenham. It shows groups, organisations and facilities, with popup information. View it online here.


Creating affinity maps

We can also show how groups may cluster around particular interests

Creating network maps

Network maps can be developed to show who's who, and who connects with who. The map below shows people in London interested in mapping. Drew Mackie is also working with Superhighways on a map of community and voluntary organisations in Kingston.

Network maps can be used to explore collaborations between organisations and individuals working in a particular area or on a project or programme. These maps are not just visualisations - they can be analysed to show clusters of sharing and collaboration, searched to show needs and the availability of skills and resources. netcity.jpg

‘Networked City’ map of collaborations across people and organisations engaged in mapping in London and beyond.

We are working on a system where people and organisations who wish to feature on the maps control the input and updating of information.

Supporting London networks

In July 2017 we worked with a group of pan-London networks to start developing a map showing existing connections, and potential for collaboration. We contributed extensively to the advisory groups for the new London resource centre - London Plus. These contributions helped formulate the job description for a Networks Partner staff post.


We are starting work on a two-year programme funded by Big Lottery with four London networks: details here.


Living Maps Review Spring 2018 edition carries a paper by Drew Mackie and David Wilcox explaining social networks and how to map them. Download here. The article covers:

  • The difference between a list, with central connections, and a network with many-to-many connections
  • The comparative value of network maps, geographic maps and catalogues
  • How can be used to build both network and geo maps
  • What network maps can tell us
  • How the imaginary locality Slipham provides a way to explore mapping at personal and neighbourhood levels in workshops


Earlier papers:

  • Building local communities using maps and apps. Thinking about communities as social ecosystems provides a framework for understanding what makes up a community, and how the use of network mapping and digital apps for organising and communicating can improve the effectiveness of community building.
  • Networks and network mapping The Internet provides the potential for extending and enhancing our personal and professional networks - offering scope for reducing social isolation, building community relationships, and supporting cooperation between and within organisations. However, to realise the potential of networks we need to understand more about their nature, how to analyse, map and build them - whether online or not.

A guide to networking 2006

These pages on networking were developed to create a guide to networking for the Scottish Centre for Regeneration in May 2006. The emphasis was deliberately nontech.

networks/index.txt · Last modified: 2021/01/31 16:59 by 2yf7j