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Connecting Londoners in a Networked City

Connecting Londoners is a collaborative project exploring how to use maps and online systems to help connect people and groups in local communities, and in networks.

The Connecting Londoners group developed during 2016-2018 as part of the Networked City exploration initiated by the London Voluntary Service Council. Over the past two years those involved have:

  • run a series of events on connecting local communities and networks, in City Hall, London Metropolitan University, Newspeak House, Space4 and elsewhere. More here
  • created innovative mapping systems that combine geographical and network maps More here
  • developed a Living Lab simulation game to play through how to use a range of methods for connecting Londoners More here
  • contributed to the advisory group for a new resource centre - London Plus - that has replaced LVSC as a support system for civil society More here
  • Set up a blog, wiki and discussion forum for Networked City and Connecting Londoners.
  • Developed proposals for a community of practice for mappers, network builders and activists. More here

Who we have worked with

David Wilcox and Drew Mackie have developed ideas, projects and events with Matt Scott, Barbara Brayshay, Nicolas Fonty, Pete Burden, Nikki Wilson, and at various stages, these key collaborators:

  • JustMap: an ongoing collaborative mapping system developed by Nicolas Fonty and Barbara Brayshay through public workshops organised at neighbourhood festivals or specific community events. Its goal is to highlight communities resources and projects, connect actors campaigning for a fairer London and identify strategic cooperations.
  • an innovative, easy to use, online tool for local community groups, which helps them communicate in many ways (web publishing, email, mailing lists, social media and print) and also links groups with other groups in their locality using networked community websites, noticeboards and emails.
  • CommunityConnect: a digital solution that joins up information about services in a local area. It has been adopted by the London Borough of Dagenham and Barking as BanD Together.
  • Together Tools: a group for anyone who sees the value in collaborating, connecting and sharing and who “holds the space” in group activities.
  • Superhighways: London's main community tech organisation providing mapping and technology support to community groups and community builders engaged in asset based community development.
  • Outlandish: the technology worker co-operative organised a series of events on mapping, including one on developing our geo-network system.

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.


‘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.

In October 2018 we'll help a group of London networks develop further plans for mapping and communications.

Dashboards for online information

Maps are good for showing on-the-ground facilities, information, and connections between people and organisations. We also need ways to bring together what's happening in-the-cloud … on websites and social media.

That's possible using personal and public dashboards like Netvibes. We'll develop a demonstration of how that could work for individual, private use - and as a public dynamically-changing noticeboard.

Additional tools and methods

As we understand more about the information and communication needs of residents and network members, we can identify and suggest additional methods that we could bring into the system. We can also explore how to provide support for people in learning how to use the maps and communication systems.

Events and a Living Lab

During 2017-18 we ran a series of events, which are detailed here, together with a Living Lab workshop

Our Way Ahead and Connecting Londoners ran the workshop with about 50 people on November 16 2017 at London Metropolitan University to play through how to develop networked support systems for civil society.

During an hour and a half session we heard about current plans for support systems focussed on a Hub; adopted roles from concerned citizen to network leader and council officer; reviewed challenges and ideas from a consultant’s report; developed further ideas, and then chose methods and actions to carry them out.

We negotiated how we could support each other with funding, endorsement, and sharing. And we decided who could deliver on the ideas. We then captured our reports of the project ideas on video - and discussed what we had learned from the session.

A community of practice for network builders

We have developed proposals for a community of practice for people with expertise, or interest in learning, about mapping and network building. These proposals were shared with the advisory group for the new London resource centre, London Plus. In March we started a map that could form the basis for a community of practice.

What's next

We will:

  • develop our local pilot in Thames Ward, Barking, and invite other local projects that we know to join in developing a common framework.
  • work with a consortium of London networks later this year to help them plan development of mapping and communications
  • explore further technical solutions for connecting geographic and network maps
  • continue blogging, and start further forum discussions

 Earlier reports

Exploring how London can be a more Networked City
A background paper for our launch event on January 10 2017, including a summary of The Way Ahead initiative, models for cooperation and collaboration in the networked age, the development process for our exploration.

Supporting co-production
A note for The Way Ahead group on co-production, covering models for engagement, cooperation and collaboration, and the idea of local ecosystems.

Connecting Citizens
A paper summarising an approach to using digital technology, network thinking and self-organising to address three linked challenges: how people can find opportunities and services, and develop new relationships in their local communities; how to develop civic infrastructure when existing systems are reducing and new approaches are needed; supporting community connectors in their role of making connections and building relationship in local communities, and online


london/connectinglondoners.txt · Last modified: 2021/01/30 17:37 by davidwilcox