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David Wilcox

Why Smart City London should be a #NetworkedCity: participatory, sharing, inclusive and accessible

11 min read

City Hall have launched a "listening exercise" to help the Chief Digital Officer Theo Blackwell and his Board fulfil the Mayor's aim to make London the world's leading Smart City.

Currently Bristol is judged to be in the lead with Manchester and Birmingham third and fourth.

The Huawei UK Smart Cities Index rankings were calculated by an in-depth analysis of ten criteria within the cities’ strategy and execution, covering areas such as their vision, digital innovation, implementation record, environmental impact and community reach.

There are examples in Theo Blackwell's blog post on Medium of "how data and smart initiatives can help citizens". I hope Smart City plans may also help our communities and social structure, about which more later.

Update: Now spotted that Smart London have also published on Medium:

The listening exercise blog post suggests we could get:

Improved public services — City budgeting focused on citizen outcomes, not departmental spending; Bringing health and social care data together for targeted care; live waste data to improve recycling rates and collection frequency; better/digitised public services lowering costs.

Public spaces — sharing of data on the local places citizens use can lead to better design of GP surgeries, schools, parks, shops, and access to sports, entertainment and culture venues during the day and at night.

More personal learning and skills — targeted learning based on personal data and a better understanding of needs and preferences, work patterns or caring responsibilities.

Participation — through civic crowdfunding for neighbourhood projects, participatory financing, community budgeting and better planning/regeneration representation on developments.

Transport reliability and options — Using tracking data from Wifi to guide new travel choices such as smart mobility, car and bicycle sharing and testing autonomous vehicles.

Energy — data on energy consumption from smart meters, if securely and privately shared, and processed alongside public data, could inform better policy making, investment and business decisions, as well as fuel the creation of more tailored and personalised services — increasing inclusion and meeting the specific aim of reducing fuel poverty.

Better public Wifi and connectivity —using public buildings and streets and parks; preparing for 5G technologies.

Personal and public health — such as using data to encourage walking and cycling and steer citizens away from air pollution hotspots; collecting health tracking data and health records with academia, boroughs, and drug manufacturers to tackle chronic diseases of Londoners such as diabetes and asthma

More reliable home and office services — in energy, broadband, water, security services; for example, sharing of energy data to allow for local energy trading/cheaper forms of local energy supply.

What's not too clear from the blog post is how City Hall sees Smart City contributing to its other priorities in the London plan - for example the Mayor's Vision for a Diverse and Inclusive City. I'll check in with the Smart City team to see if there is more in the plan.

That's important because these days tech isn't necessarily seen as wholly beneficial.

Last year NESTA ran an excellent event on digital innovation where CEO Geoff Mulgan explained why digital social innovation should be both bottom-up and top-down.

What we have learned - contrary to many expectations 30 or 40 years ago - is that most of the dynamic of digital and indeed the knowledge economy, through most societies, is that it widens disparity, it widens inequalities. It creates fantastic pockets and hubs of amazing activity in London or Barcelona or Berlin or Copenhagen but actually the distance in terms of life opportunity, income and so on tends to widen, so it is really important that we focus again and again on the social dimension and don’t just celebrate the digital.

At the NESTA event we heard about the Barcelona Digital City Plan. The plan covers:

A City in Common Technology for social change and public sector innovation

  • Develop a public, open and distributed citizen data infrastructure
  • Launch an open standards data collection platform
  • Implement strategies to involve citizens, businesses, communities, organizations, universities and research centers
  • Public administration digital transformation and innovation

Democratic City Technology for a participatory, collaborative and transparent city

  • Develop and standardize new models of participation in digital environment
  • Technological citizenship sovereignty and digital rights
  • Create a XXI century education and training for life and work
  • Bring emerging technologies closer to citizens to foster a modern, conscious, active and participatory society

Circular City Technology for a new, more sustainable and efficient urban model

  • Address with sustainability criteria, the most urgent urban problems
  • Reduce the digital gap between the different neighborhoods
  • Share and provide collective access to resources through democratic governance
  • Stimulate the culture of invention and technological innovation

Creative City Technology to promote invention, entrepreneurship and social innovation

  • Boost a more efficient, transparent and strategic use of public spending
  • Promote public administration innovation, within SMEs and Cooperatives
  • Stimulate the Barcelona network for digital social innovation
  • Foster a more pluralistic digital economy and make a new urban innovation model

Here's further inspiration from Barcelona - an interview in Shareable with Francesca Bria, the chief innovation officer: Building the Networked City From the Ground Up With Citizens

In 2015 NESTA published a report Rethinking Smart Cities from the ground up that argued for a people-centred approach to smart cities:

" To have a chance of helping cities address some of the tough problems they face, we argue that further investment and support are needed to generate evidence about which approaches to using collaborative technologies are most effective. Cities then need to share these lessons so that other cities can adopt and build on the most successful approaches. In the introduction of this report we set out five main recommendations on how cities can better achieve this.

  • Set up a civic innovation lab to drive innovation in collaborative technologies.
  • Use open data and open platforms to mobilise collective knowledge.
  • Take human behaviour as seriously as technology.
  • Invest in smart people, not just smart technology.
  • Spread the potential of collaborative technologies to all parts of society."

I'm hopefully that there's scope to introduce this sort of thinking, as Smart City plans develop.

We can offer some input from the Networked City exploration we've been engaged in for the past year: overview here on our wiki.

The briefing paper for our launch event offered a model of communities as social ecosystems, whose connectedness and health is affected for good or ill by technology.

It is a case made strongly more recently, by David Robinson, as I reported here. David argues that technology is increasing social isolation, and that we have to plan how to use it to positive effect.

David posted ten pieces about Connecting Well on Medium, and has agreed that I can repost them here on our wiki. In addition, David will be speaking at a free event on March 12 2018. How relationships change the world, and where to go with what we know. That's a must.

Over the past year Networked City and Connecting Londoners has focussed on plans for new infrastructure for London civil society, and in particular plans for a resource Hub for London.

Together with the Our Way Ahead network of networks we've made the case for a networked approach, not just a central resource, and for investing in people to achieve that.

The priority functions for the Hub are now agreed as data, networks and networking, and voice/influencing. The Smart City team have invited the advisory group to the Hub - of which I have been a member - to make an input to plans.

It may be that issues like social isolation, and living well in in digital age, fall outside plans for a Smarter City. If so, I think that makes it all the more important for Hub for London to collaborate to address these issues.

Addition: in my original post I neglected to mention excellent work at the RSA by senior researcher Brhmie Balaram, which I quoted here. In Cities 3.0 - from data-driven to people-powered Brhmie writes:

We envision that in Networked Cities, P2P technology would be embedded in systems akin to the technology of Smart Cities, but would enable a collaborative approach to problem-solving, as it has in Sharing Cities.

In Networked Cities, however, the goal citizens are working towards is broader than managing shared assets and resource; the ambition here would be to apply P2P technology to support inclusive growth. While cities have long been drivers of growth, in recent years they have also struggled with widening inequality, compelling cities to pursue a new agenda that rebalances social objectives and economic priorities. Under the banner of achieving inclusive growth, cities must find solutions to emerging problems of health, housing, the environment, ageing and other demographic change.

At the RSA, we’d argue that Networked Cities goes beyond simply rethinking the Smart City or Sharing City in terms of the tools or technologies that we use, or how we engage citizens, because we are also redefining the problems and challenges being tackled. The Networked City is about more than managing public space and population growth or enabling resource efficiency; rather it takes into account wider social challenges that cities are confronting in their pursuit of a more equal society.

Networked City and Hub for London

Smart Cities

David Wilcox

Updating ideas on Hub for London: might @nesta_uk and @theRSAorg help develop a new London Collaborative?

7 min read

Here's an update on the development of the civil society Hub for London, and some fresh ideas triggered by a visit to the RSA to hear Geoff Mulgan, NESTA chief executive, talk about his new book Big Mind.

The book is sub-titled "how collective intelligence can change the world" and there's a section on combining human and computer-based data and intelligence to help cities think better. We need some of that in London. More later on how and why.

Last month I reported on the game that we ran at London Metropolitan University to simulate how new arrangements might work to support citizens, community groups, charities - and anyone else aiming to do some social good.

The briefing document for the event explains how, after 107 years, London has lost the organisation supporting civil society groups, and how London Funders and others are planning a replacement resource Hub. At the same time City Hall is developing its own civil society strategy.

Over the past year a group of us have been pressing for more thinking about how to build networks to complement the Hub, and the use of digital technology to support these. Our Networked City exploration is documented here.

While acting as friendly critics, we've also put forward a lot of constructive suggestions, and I was glad to be invited on to the advisory group. The group has met a couple of times, and agreed that the main functions for the Hub should be data, networks, and voice and influence.

The group secretariat have now collated all the recommendations about the Hub, and I've been able to align these with ideas developed by Connecting Londoners and Our Way Ahead. Google doc open for comments here. It feels as if we are on the same page in our analysis.

Briefly, we are suggesting that the task is not just to design a new organisation, but also ways to build and support civil society networks at all levels, and across all sectors. That's entirely in line with the report on the Hub produced by consultant Steve Wyler.

I order to start development I suggested in a previous post that we should begin not with tools and structures, but with a group of enthusiasts and specialists who might become a Community of Practice.

We should start to demonstrate network mapping, network communications, outline a guide to networks, and experiment with different forms of organising through simulations.

This would inform decisions on staffing for the Hub, and how it would operate. Geoff Mulgan explained that sort of process much better in his talk, saying we may start on a route with one way of thinking, discover barriers, rethink our categories and models, and then rethink how to think. He calls this the three loops of collective intelligence.

At the moment much of the thinking about the Hub is in the first loop, focussed on an organisational model. We need to find a way to get to the third loop of network and systems thinking before embedding an old model in a Hub charitable company. I trailed some ideas on that last June.

In one section of the book Geoff writes about applying ideas of collective intelligence to cities, and reports on work he did in shaping development of the London Collaborative that brought together three tiers of government and other interests. It ended with a change of Mayor. Boris Johnson didn't get it.

With that notion in mind, and a brief but encouraging conversation with Geoff at the book signing, I bumped into a couple of highly knowledgable RSA Fellows in the bar: David Wood, and David Gurteen.

David Wood is chair of London Futurists, and their YouTube channel demonstrates the breadth of thinking about the future we should be apply to London.

Developing a future scenario was one recommendation from Steve Wyler that hasn't been taken up, and should be.

David Gurteen is a knowledge management specialist who can do all the tech stuff - but focusses on human conversations as the main way that we can cooperate and learn. He ran a conversation cafe for us last year. More here on David's cafes.

At the RSA I also met by chance Cassie Robinson, from doteveryone. Cassie's blog posts on Medium, like this one on Platforms as networks of assets, have aided my thinking about networks and platforms for London.

Next week I'll be connecting via Zoom video conference with Harold Jarche, who ran a terrific workshop for us last year on the theory and practice of networks, social learning and leadership.

Taking these chance encounters together with Geoff's talk - and the insights added by our host RSA chief executive Matthew Taylor - made me think that a Community of Practice is not perhaps what's needed. More of a mini-London Collaborative, or modest Think and Do tank, drawing on a range of inputs.

We should definitely invite Beth Kanter, an old and valued acquaintance who wrote yesterday in The Guardian about Digital technology as a force for social good. We exchanged tweets and Beth liked my earlier blog post.

So where next, after a day of such a excellent connections and ideas?

I wonder whether it would be possible to interest Geoff and/or Matthew in collective intelligence and network thinking for London's future.

I'm an RSA Fellow - as are five other people involved in Connecting Londoners and Our Way Ahead. I've referenced RSA work extensively on this blog, and also that of NESTA. They are currently running a Connected Communities Fund.

So far most of our work over the past year has been self-funded. We need resources - but also ways to connect our work on the practical challenges facing London communities with the work of think tanks like RSA and NESTA.

Talking about this to David Gurteen, he remarked that often innovation in systems comes from the edge. Unfortunately it can be lonely out there. I hope we can now gather some more friends.

David Wilcox

How we can apply @thersaorg vision of Convening and Change from @RSAMatthew to London’s civil society

3 min read

The main theme of the address from CEO Matthew Taylor at last night's RSA AGM was Convening and Change - which further encourages me to think that the project a group of us pitched last week could contribute to the Society’s mission … and the RSA to ours.

In summary, I suggested at an RSA Ideas event that we could bring together some of the 8000 London RSA Fellows who are committed to social change, with community groups and networks developing bottom-up support systems to complement official centralised resources.

We are convening a co-design event in November, and developing online conversations and support. Here’s our work in progress document on the event structure, developed with Drew Mackie and Matt Scott.

I think our approach fits well with another theme highlighted by Anthony Painter, Director of the Action and Research Centre - think like a system, act like an entrepreneur - as well as past RSA work on Connected Communities.

What could be more systemic than co-designing civil society support systems? And we have certainly been entrepreneurial in developing a vision of London as a Networked City with modest resources.

Anthony was promoting the model of Cities of Learning - “an experimental place-based mobilisation of formal, non-formal and informal learning assets and resources”. That’s a good fit too. I think it will appeal to London Metropolitan University, who are hosting the event, and where I joined Matt last week to talk at the community work course he teaches.

The RSA has various systems for supporting Fellow-led projects, and I’ll follow up my initial enquiries about what might be on offer with a suggestion that we discuss how we can align with the ideas presented last night, as well as those of the community networks we are working with. I think there is potentially a good fit.

The full set of slides that I shot last night is here. I'm checking whether there is an official set, video, and scripts.


David Wilcox

City Hall hailed as potential champion for London grassroots action during consultation on #GLAcivilsocietystrategy. Now - how?

5 min read

Yesterday the Greater London Authority and its consultants asked a wide range of grassroots organisations at an event in Hackney how they would like to engage better with City Hall - and how the GLA might help in their work.

I think the GLA team, and their consultants TSIP and Collaborate should be pleased with the reception they got, and the ideas generated. They reinforced some of those aired at the event last week with the Deputy Mayor Matthew Ryder QC, organised by Reclaim our Spaces.

People yesterday felt that that the GLA could be an ally in championing their work, convening interests from different sectors, acting as a broker and problem-solver when difficulties arose with other agencies, including borough councils.

However, people also felt that there was a lack of communication and transparency in current engagement processes, and it was difficult to see where opportunities lie.

What was needed was a continuing process of conversation and engagement, using a range of different methods. That process should not just be offered by City Hall on the basis of consultants’ reports and officer recommendations - it should be co-produced with grassroots organisations.

Those ideas, that I picked up from the discussion groups, broadly reflected the presentation of findings at the start from consultant Marion Brossard of TSIP. Here’s photos of the flip charts from discussion groups, and Marion’s slide deck.

The group that I was in, and helped facilitate, also felt it was important that the GLA helped develop systems by which groups in an area and London as a whole could find out who’s who, collaborate better, develop a strong voice, and engage collectively with other interests and agencies. That certainly relates strongly to mapping and network building that we’ve advocated through Connecting Londoners.

Here’s where the main challenge arises for the GLA, as I reflected after last week’s event: how to engage and co-design with maybe 100,000 grassroots organisations across London when the umbrella body that has represented them - LVSC - has just been abolished.

In some cases the intermediary could be the local Council for Voluntary Service … and people spoke highly of our host for the event, Hackney CVS. Some other CVSs may not have the capacity or inclination to take on that role. I didn’t hear many words of praise for borough councils, who have their own problems facing big cuts.

It may be that the new Hub organisation, planned by The Way Ahead initiative, based on Greater London Volunteering, will have a role. TWA have just set up a working group to develop details, probably based in part on this report from Steve Wyler.

We have a more immediate modest first step towards a solution. I’m developing ideas with Drew Mackie, Matt Scott and others involved in the grassroots network Our Way Ahead for a co-design event at London Metropolitan University on November 16.

There we will play through what might be involved in mapping, network building and communications at different levels of civil society to address some of the challenges raised in this consultation, and with The Way Ahead. More later on this blog. If you are interested, please drop a comment or contact us here. We aim to do some co-designing ourselves.


Consultants TSIP have circulated a summary of notes from the event for comment by participants

  1. Grassroots organisations to be taken seriously and acknowledged – particularly by businesses
  2. GLA to share their recommendations across strategies and stakeholders
  3. GLA to encourage transparent decision making to motivate engagement
  4. GLA to take input via trained listeners/champions/teams
  5. GLA to empower CVS’s (although some find engaging with them a struggle)
  6. GLA to be sensitive to the language used by less privileged groups
  7. GLA to be engaged with locals from the beginning of the process, and help to pay for it
  8. GLA to hold neighborhood meetings
  9. GLA to recognize and address inequality wherever possible
  10. GLA to learn lessons from the past (with particular reference to the GLC)
  11. GLA to address concerns that the Civil Society strategy is not a ‘hollow gesture’
  12. Where the GLA is providing funding/support they should have continuing face-to-face engagement
  13. GLA should co-produce best practice and knowledge sharing with grassroots organisations – supported with crowdfunding
  14. Assisting grassroots organisations to network and support each other
  15. GLA to create a way to co-produce solutions to grassroots organisation’s challenges – involving councils and CVS
  16. GLA to create a roadshow to help create awareness of grassroots work
  17. GLA to aim to be as transparent as possible, and create easy access to shared data
  18. GLA to work more effectively with corporates to close funding gaps/increase resources


David Wilcox

Pitching Connecting Londoners and co-design of civil society communications to an #RSAideas session

3 min read

Last night a group of us had a great opportunity to pitch Connecting Londoners to one of the regular RSA ideas events. There are some 8000 London Fellows, representing enormous expertise and connections in the city.

Quite a few Fellows are developing projects for social good - examples here. As I wrote earlier, RSA has done a lot of work in the past on connecting communities.

With Drew Mackie, Matt Scott, Pete Burden and other Fellows, I've been helping London community groups and organisations strengthen their networks, and capacity to develop innovative projects. Here's the pitch we made last night, with a couple of posters we presented. Nikki Wilson added support.

I think the ideas went down well, and we'll be following up with invitations to the event we are planning with Matt on November 16 at London Metropolitan University to co-design a networked approach to supporting London community groups and networks. More here later on that.

Thanks to Charlotte Bayley and Alex Blanes for excellent organising on behalf of RSA London.

Our pitch

We are suggesting tonight that we bring together two movements that could make a real difference to London civil society.

On the one hand we have a resurgence of interest in the way that Fellows can work together to share ideas and make a collective social impact for good.

Judy Rees has led a group of us in developing an online Fellows Forum. As you can see from the poster, Drew Mackie and I have mapped networks in the Forum, showing people’s connections and shared interests.

In addition, London Fellowship Councillors will soon invite Fellows to join in a network weaving initiative to build stronger connections between Fellows and projects.

On the other hand, London funders and others are developing plans for new support systems in the face of funding cuts, and the Greater London Authority is consulting on its civil society strategy.

However, London community groups and networks are not happy with the plans. They are urging a more bottom-up, networked approach - not just a central resource hub. Drew and I have explored what’s needed from the level of family, to neighbourhood and city. That’s the other poster.

So, in the RSA, Fellows are exploring how to support each other, as well as getting support from the centre. In London, community groups are similarly exploring mutual support to complement the central resource hub.

Why not join forces?

On November 16 we’ll be running a co-design workshop with Matt Scott at London Metropolitan University that will bring a lot of different interests together to envisage what a properly Networked City could be like, supported by digital technology. Not just a smart city, but one that is sharing and participatory. There’s strong parallels with our ideas for a more networked RSA.

In addition, we’ll be running an online forum, blog and wiki before and after the event, and planning more workshops. If you would like to join in, drop me an email. There will be more on our Connecting Londoners blog.

David Wilcox

Explaining to London's Deputy Mayor @rydermc how mapping can help connect Londoners and #reclaimourspaces

3 min read

We have a couple of exciting opportunities in the next few days to take forward the idea of building networks at different levels to connect Londoners and their communities.

Tonight I’ll be joining Nicolas Fonty of JustMap at City Hall to explore further with Deputy Mayor Matthew Ryder QC how a combination of network and geographic mapping can build connections. We first ran a workshop with Matthew in February, and were encouraged by his interest.

This time we are supporting the campaign Reclaim Our Spaces, which is building a network of grassroots groups to protect London's community spaces. As their manifesto says:

By community spaces, we include community centres, music venues, libraries, pubs, open spaces and public spaces, youth centres, land for community food growing and street markets. Many community spaces across London have been lost in recent years and others are under threat of closure through a combination of austerity, privatisation and development pressure.

RoS has three main areas of activity:

Designing grassroots activities (e.g. “learning journeys”) enabling us to reach out to the many current campaigns in London and raising their visibility through tools such as the creation of a digital platform.

Supporting each other as a network of communities and community spaces, through sharing information, joint initiatives and practical solidarity.

Influencing the London Plan, and other strategies of the Mayor of London

Nicolas been working with RoS and Justspace to run collaborative workshops where Londoners can use their local knowledge to map places under threat, and also assets in their area.

I'm reporting the work that Drew Mackie and I have been doing to show how network mapping can build connections at the level of friends and family, neighbourhoods and across London. Here's our poster

Connecting Londoners poster

We believe that using a mix of traditional and digital methods to help people connect is important both for campaigns and community building.

Next week I and others will be pitching at an RSA Ideas event. There we'll explain how we've been working with the Our Way Ahead initiative to map London networks.

Our idea is that we should run a participatory process to co-design the way in which different levels of networks can join up with the proposed London hub. Background here and more in a further post.

David Wilcox

Join us to discuss how Londoners can connect and influence development of the city

2 min read

We have a few free places for our cafe conversation session on Thursday afternoon, July 20. Here's the flyer.

We'll be discussing "How can we connect Londoners so that they can have a greater influence over the future development of their city?"

I know it is going to be a great event because of the topic on the one hand, and on the other because it will be facilitated by David Gurteen.

It will be chance to learn how David uses an apparently simple framework for an event that enables some rich conversations. It will be a lesson in itself in how to help people connect - and I'm sure that the insights generated will give us fresh ideas about how to influence London's development.

More here about David's Cafes, which he has now run in 32 countries.

Among those attending will be key people from initiative to reframe support for London civil society, and from the recent community-led response .

I hope we'll develop some shared ways forward, drawing on the TWA conference and last week's OWA event.

The cafe will be from 1pm to 5pm July 21 at LVSC, c/o Voluntary Action Islington, Conference room, 200a Pentonville Road, N1 9JP.

Please let Matthew Scott know if you are coming or tweet me @davidwilcox

David Wilcox

Joining up the dots to show #OurWayAhead

5 min read

Yesterday's event about building stronger London communities was a terrific success, both for the content and in providing insights into where next for Connecting Londoners and other initiatives.

There were some great presentations, and lively open spaces discussions around these topics.

  • What good qualities do we have in common and how can we make these good qualities more common and stronger
  • Hate Crime Bystanders
  • To create a performance machine/system that demonstrates the shared/skills and abilities of us all but also highlights and showcases the way forward
  • How can we improve access for deaf and disabled people across all of London
  • No more asking - taking back power and voice
  • Could London have its own currency to share skills and resources LETS link London
  • Supporting vulnerable young people (mainly care leavers) transitioning into independence - building foundations, emotional support etcetera solid understanding acceptance of the self
  • How can we make sure that everyone legal rights are respected? - so they can challenge decisions by public authorities - so they can get expert advice and representation with the right way ahead - so rights have meaning, and value and justice is not just rich man's law
  • Let's mobilise for mental health
  • What is happening to our community assets? centres, youth clubs, libraries, parks allotments? How can we keep them going? How can we resource them?
  • Access for deaf and disabled people in London is a postcode lottery. How can we create an equal pan-London approach to accessibility.
  • What can universities do to contribute?
  • How to encourage the huge variety of the people in London to listen and understand each other and so build peace and happiness.
  • To create new accessible media that gives a genuine voice to communities for the social and economic regeneration of communities
  • Hostile immigration policies - communities and resistance
  • Physical spaces for the voluntary sector to meet
  • Why aren't we talking about food and living space?
  • Planning for Greener London - air-quality, community energy, green space, sustainable city
  • Quality of life and well-being - coping, creativity, identity, social, physical
  • Is it all about austerity rather than government priorities - i.e. segregation/institutionalisation versus inclusion
  • Minorities and Brexit - are you thinking what I'm thinking and what can we do about it?
  • We have the Mayor of London and the young Mayor in local areas. Why not have a disabled Mayor?
  • how can government spend money differently to promote community inclusion rather than segregation
  • Systems thinking what people say what matters or journeys
  • Digital inclusion

John Popham livestreamed the event, and I'll hold off further reporting of the content until recordings are available, and we have worked our way through the flip charts.

At the start of the day Drew Mackie and I handed out a printed basemap of connections of some London organisations and groups, and invited people to add their own group or organisation, if not on the map, and draw in further connections.

Drew then transcribed the sheets into the Kumu software we are using to build the map online.


We are still tidying up the map, but we know that we added some 100 new nodes. Here's how it looked on screen at the end of the day


What was evident from conversations - and confirmed by the mapping - is that London has a huge and diverse range of community talents and assets - but they are not very well connected. People may know about those groups and organisations in their particular field, and some central organisations, but not those in associated fields who might be helpful.

One of the ideas floated at yesterday's event was creating a strong movement for community groups. That didn't really catch on because, I think, there were so many diverse challenges to talk about, and there's much to do in building connections and shared purpose.

That's where I think Connecting Londoners can help, both through the initial projects we are developing - outlined here - and extending and deepening the mapping.

I'll update in a day or so on how we could do that, but briefly we can construct a survey into people's projects, interests and capabilities, and their communication preferences and willingness to share. That would give us the basis for planning how to strengthen networking, and the "network ourselves" approach I outline here in writing about How to move TheWayAhead into the networked age by Connecting Londoners .

We could do more to join up the dots - or rather, help people do their own joining up. The planning group for Our Way Ahead is meeting next week, and I'm sure there will be a wealth of other ideas from that.

We'll also be able to generate more ideas at a Cafe conversation on Thursday July 20, facilitated by David Gurteen There are only a few places available, so please get in touch with me directly if you are interested: Cafe details here

Update: Here's a brief report on the mapping exercise

David Wilcox

Why #OurWayAhead will be #GoodforLDN civil society

5 min read

Today some 180 people passionate about the future of London communities are getting togther to share ideas about how to organise social action and support local groups in the face of funding cuts and major social challenges.

A few weeks ago London funding organisations and their partners held an official event on how to support civil society organisations, as part of The Way Ahead initiative.

Our Way Ahead Organisations

There were many excellent proposals, but some activists at that event argued that there wasn't sufficient recognition of the role of grass-roots organisations. In a short time a group of networks, supported by Matt Scott of the London Voluntary Service Council, organised their response - Our Way Ahead. We are meeting this afternoon at London Metropolitan University from 1pm with a started scheduled for 2pm.

There will be lots on Twitter, if you follow , and John Popham will be live streaming and doing interviews. I'll be helping with that, and also working with Drew Mackie to create a living map of London networks.

Matt Scott and researcher Matt Pugh have created a basic network map of key London organisations and networks in London civil society, and we'll invite people to add their organisations and connections.

Network map

Drew Mackie - who is working with me and Matt on the Networked City initiative - will then update and display the emerging map on the wall - all being well. I'll report later.

We'll also be tweeting with the tag , because at our planning meeting we agreed that we needed a London dimension to tweets. I suggested Good for London because I remembered that back at the start of our Networked City exploration I wrote:

Let’s talk about to make sense of civil society, a networked city and

Signups are going well for our event tomorrow about London as a networked and neighbourly city, creating a Living Lab to help reframe civil society, using tech to support social action.

It’s about all of those things, and I suspect each idea resonates with different interests. I think that’s a problem, and we need an idea and a tag everyone can understand. How about ?

Behind the rather abstract terms I’ve been using so far in these posts is the idea that we need to rethink how people and organisations doing good cooperate and collaborate in the networked age, where the Internet is changing so much about the way we lead our lives, and the relationships, interests and activities we can develop.

I was looking for a term, a tag, that embraces the broad idea of action for social good - whether by individuals, community groups, charities, public agencies or social businesses.

That is a key idea in the official The Way Ahead reports

We begin with three beliefs: first, that a thriving civil society is good for Londoners; second, that in order to achieve a strong and vibrant civil society, just like any other sector, civil society organisations need access to appropriate support, as well as a ‘voice’ within the debates about London; and third that London faces both challenges and opportunities which mean we need to rethink how that support and voice is best provided to civil society in London.

The Way Ahead proposes a system that puts London’s communities at the heart of the way we all work. It begins with co-producing an understanding of need and how to tackle it with our communities, through to better sharing of intelligence and data across all sectors, and making sure that civil society’s voice is heard in decision-making at a strategic level.

I think people in Our Way Ahead agree with that ... and I hope that might be a tag that can be used to bring together "official" ideas and ones developed today. There's lots you can do with Twitter to gather ideas, spark conversations and build networks if you agree a tag. I'm interested in how far we can get. If we need it, I'm happy to offer which I've registered.

I think the benefit that Our Way Ahead will bring to The Way Ahead is a street-level perspective on what life is like in London today, and what can be done by citizens and community groups to support and complement more official actions.

Summary of previous posts, and other references here

David Wilcox

Looking for ideas at @LDNCommMedia summit on how community media can help in Connecting Londoners. Here's our headlines.

4 min read

I'm going to the London Community Media Summit later today, hoping to have some useful conversations about the role of local blogs, news sites, online communities and radio in Connecting Londoners and making London a more Networked City. It provides a good nudge for me to write some headlines summarising where we at, with reference links and notes.

In summary: Connecting Londoners developed from an exploration into how to make London a more Networked City. We are pitching ideas at London Funders, City Hall and others about how to introduce more network thinking and digital technology into current plans to reframe support for London civil society.

Our most recent piece: How to move TheWayAhead into the networked age by Connecting Londoners

Reporting on London civil society

Networked City and Connecting Londoners

Recent blog posts

Main sites and briefing notes

I'm sure the summit will offer a refreshing take on media, both community and mainstream. It's now nearly 40 years since I was a planning reporter on the London Evening Standard, and 20 since I helped start UK Communities Online. I'll be looking for new ideas and inspiration for a few more years.