Neighborhood Mapping



As our worlds become more connected and complex we need to be able to cooperate at greater scales. In the authors case, it is expanding from household cooperation to neighborhood scale cooperation.

# Tools for Cooperation Also we need to be able to cooperate more frequently and faster. Tools are able to support such cooperation by reducing friction. Without a:

- Graph visualization tool (nodes, connections, and pathways) we cannot share and understand complex systems.

- GIS tool we cannot visualize where the systems components are located nor their geographic patterns of interactions. See quote below, "...use as a "tool for reflection" to start community discussions ...

> MacLennan—the program director for Digital Democracy, a non-profit focused on empowering marginalized communities through the use of technology— spent several months working with the people of Guyana to construct a drone that they could independently fly, repair, and use as a “tool of reflection” to start community discussions on land use and resource management. > Empowerment from within, rather than involvement from outside actors, is Digital Democracy’s goal. “We want working with technology to be something that reduces inequality and makes them feel like they’re participating more in something that’s happening on their land,” he said. “This was not my technology that I was bringing in or the white man’s technology being brought in from the outside,” he reflected, “This was the Wapichana drone.”

- Property graph database we cannot afford the cost of writing queries in relational databases to discover patterns in the data. Cypher query language and property graph databases makes this often impossible relational database task nearly trivial.

- Democratic Poling and Conversation will allow neighbors to learn what they think about the state of their neighborhood, see the variation in assessments, and have the needed conversation to broaden the understanding of the neighborhood. All if this should lead to more democratic and coordinated action in the neighborhood, among neighbors but also with outside institutions.

# Better results

We can't pursue different outcomes if we can't see alternative routes. Routes are Paths between places and things. We easily see facilities and buildings—things. We naturally think about entities: people, groups, and businesses.

In this project we begin to add, to literally draw in, the Relationships - real connections. We also encourage drawing the needed but as yet missing connections. Once we have added a relationship we can add properties to the relationship, to put some flesh on it. Then we find or create pathways–linked parts, connections, that get us to our goals.


SELF-ORGANIZING (Organize or Be Organized) Traditionally, we deal with one another through Stories and sometimes we create specialized drawings of our stories—graphs. We draw pictures of things connected with lines, indicating relationships and therefore change. Oddly our “relational” database technology has been really bad at representing complex relationships—complex sets of changing connections among things. Until recently, our best attempts at representing changing relationships have been difficult to visualize and efforts have often been proprietary and not shared beyond the walls of the enterprise.

Our future will be determined by enterprises of enterprises; furthermore, Self-organizing Enterprises of Enterprises. Our key purpose here is to make self-organizing easier—at any scale, but particularly at local scale. We want self-organizing to have an at least equal likelihood of success as does top-down, hierarchical organizing. Command and control style hierarchies may provide tight control but it limits diversity and creative potential. David Snowden's Cynefin framework helped me understand when top-down command and control are essential and when it is a counter productive for of problem solving.

Hyper-connected networks have greater potential for diversity and creativity but can dissolve into confusion and non-aligned effort. Once we know the secret to Viable Network Design and to subnetwork viability we are set to perform an interesting balancing act—democracy vs. autocracy and Self-control vs. being controlled. We can move beyond difficult compromises, commonly brokered with money: ‘your freedom for my money’—kind of soft gun to our heads.

Purposeful self-organizing usually happens only when the relationships are understood or at least discoverable. We are going to begin representing relevant neighborhood and community purposes and relationships in ways that are understandable and public.

The goal is to enable self organizing at all scales within a county or region. BUT neighborhood self-organizing is understood to be primary simply because life is experienced and lived in neighborhoods where we face one another.

# STAGES AND PHASES This new platform's functionality will unfold in three stages: 1. visual tools for discovery and diagnosis, 1. visual tools for design and development, and 1. visual tools for managing and operating day-to-day.

# TECHNOLOGY We will use iterative design and deployment to allow the platform to evolve with our users–so that it is useful and used at every stage of development. (SCRUM--Agile methods). Scrum and commitment based management are built into our approach. This very document was written in the largest Scrum-Agile platform on earth—Atlasian’s Confluence and Jira. Now it is transfered to a Federated Wiki site.

My initial goal (for the discovery and diagnostic phase) is to create a Geospatial Linkage Map Platform and use it for a single region--Whatcom County, WA (Once operational I will add other regions as they show interest.

After looking at KeyLines, Linkurious, and Tom Sawyer Perspectives for the customer facing front end with associated application programming interfaces (APIs), I have concluded that Tom Sawyer Perspectives is the most versatile and best suited to satisfy a diverse set of end users. However, mastering TSP is challenging. We may use GraphViz to get going. We will begin with a hosted instance of Neo4j Enterprise. We will start the web hosting from my WordPress site (between hosting sites at this moment). We will use Atlasssian's Confluence and JIRA to manage communication and development efforts.

I will begin by creating Excel or Google Sheets CVS files for key entities and relationships in Whatcom County, to include the program participants involved with all the local foundations, the public health department, the school districts, and importantly the Bellingham Neighborhood Associations. (I had hoped to have it integrate with Community Commons and municipal data layers and their geocoded facility locations, but their business model is changing.)The goal was for users of these on-line linkage maps to move seamlessly between relationships and contextually relevant data layers. This goal is on hold.

I may use The Brain Technologies to allow information exchange and provide hyper links between The Brain and Tom Sawyer applications. The data model includes Stakeholders, Ideals, Priorities, Goals, Programs, Projects, Process, Results, Scrum and a sustainability auditing function called VSM (viable system model).

My current preference is to begin with Whatcom County, WA and Mt. Baker Foundation, then move to other communities using the nearly universal Community Health Improvement Plans as a starting point. We could also partner with Vera Institute and help with Criminal Justice Reform—deincarcerating the population safely. There is some interest within a network of 117 Cooperative Community Banks in Brazil.


After getting the Linkage Map visualization platform stable and in use, we will begin development of the diagnosis, design, and operations functions. The transition from visualizing previously invisible parts and relationships of networks to diagnostics will be the development of a Viable System Model capability–the ability for purposeful actors to determine whether their shared venture can succeed over time (viability, sustainability).

Once an on-line survey with VSM visualization exists and is used, programs, projects or businesses could be further explored with Malik methods and tools (Beer’s VSM, Vester’s Sensitivity Model, Beer and Leonard’s Syntigration) as needed.

Of course many other network analysis and visualization tools are potentially available, based upon the fact that Neo4j, a "property graph data base" is the underlying data base.

The importance of Malik tools is their ability to make social sense of massive complexity that is inherent in neighborhoods and communities and between institutions. One of the critical needs is to discover the leverage points in dynamic networks and answer some critical questions about the system: What can really change things for the better? What will likely make things worse? What is too dangerous to mess with? What will resist any attempt to change it? What is inherently unstable? Vester’s Sensitivity Model helps us surface these answers elegantly.


We can't see many of the things that affect our health and our businesses the most. Our attention tends to go toward the things we can see. The common expression "our focus" is clearly a visual metaphor. If the things that make the most difference are frequently invisible, then it is important to make them visible. That's what linkage mapping does.

Most humans are comfortable juggling 3 to 7 things at a time. The world that effects our businesses and our lives is much larger than that. One of the challenges we have is making the large networks of relationships manageable.

When it comes to businesses, our customers and clients often depend on the interactions beyond our individual businesses. Customers, clients, and suppliers prefer to work with those who can manage the necessary web of relationships.

This network or web must be able to manage the flow of people, materials, and information between institutions and individuals. We must be able to see the usually invisible connections and we must be able to manage them. Also purposes must be identified which guide the parts of the web to navigate and to self-organize.


In addition to these obvious and mechanical flows there is the aspect of networks that make them look and act a lot more like a family or a garden than a machine. Machine-like relationships need to be dealt with mechanically and family-like relationships require a different approach.

So our problem-solving will fall into two broad categories: processes and politics. Processes turn on mechanics, politics turn on purposes. Ultimately our map of connections needs to be able to represent both processes and purpose determined networks.

Purpose is the center or the defining and driving force of dynamic social networks. State the purpose, draw the network—make it visible. Make its structure viable. Make it more effective. Make it more efficient. Purposeful, visible, viable, effective, efficient—in that order, with those nesting priorities.

Sector Networks, such as education, health and justice present some of the most powerful opportunity for innovations. Beyond that, there will be linkages across sector boundaries.

There are food networks. There are education networks. There are health networks. There are justice networks and incarceration networks.

We must not continue like the man looking for his keys in the lamp light when he actually drop them in the dark. We must shed light on the hidden parts and Hidden Relationships to find our cherished futures.

This now visible network of relationships must be able to accommodate process improvement, political negotiations, and customer navigation.


The platform must be able to integrate survey data with the network and display it visually on maps.



It must be able to accommodate Neighborhood Geospatial Maps, logic maps, and process maps.

These networks must be displayed on recognizable geographical maps. They must be able to show the status of relationships programs projects and processes.

The platform must be able to display relevant connections for any user. A mother would likely have different connections than a hospital CEO or an insurance company CEO. In the final analysis these are Navigation maps, to trace your path through a maze. Also so we can design new paths. They provide the information so that one can navigate whatever level or layer of the map that's relevant to your purpose.

Simply put, those that can manage networks in support of customers or neighborhood needs will survive and those that cannot will go out of business or live desperate lives. In a massively connected world, visualizing and managing relationships between institutions and among neighbors is the difference between survival and failure, flourishing or desperation. We are creating a very good survival tool and strategy. Being overwhelmed by the number of connections, by complexity, is not a good survival strategy. There is a middle way.

The best methodology and the political skills in the world can't help if you haven't seen the critical connections. Going forward, what you don't see will kill you. Strategies for interaction will produce better results than isolation and protectionism.

These maps let you See the Missing Opportunities and Have the Missing Conversations. They dramatically expand the playing field and those who can step onto that field and up to that challenge will win. Once you have a shared connection map and a few new skills you can navigate complexity and create meaningful patterns out of chaos. This approach will be less frustrating, more interesting, and more profitable.


Community and Neighborhood Level Linkage Maps are a critical navigation, planning, and strategic prioritization tools for all wellbeing related institutions in the community or region. Selected strategies can be depicted on the linkage map and tactics can even be followed and monitored or superimposed on the linkage map. Any particular institution or neighborhood can see the opportunities, threats and potential partnerships on this map and can therefore create their strategic plans from it.

Shared Feb. 9, 2019 by _Author: Marc Pierson, protected by Community Commons—Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)_ (img)