Ecosystems are dynamic networks that emerge through connections between many actors. Civic tech and data ecosystems are shaped by interactions between local actors who use or create data and technology to improve civic life, specifically government services and other policies and programs that affect low-income residents. To better support and leverage local connections, ecosystem mapping is a process that allows people to visualize their network and understand how each organization in the community contributed or could contribute to common goals. This document provides guidance and examples on the value of mapping, key questions when getting started, different methods to collect the data, and how to use and analyze ecosystem maps to strengthen community relationships.
This guide draws on experiences from the Civic Tech and Data Collaborative, which brought together local government officials, civic technologists, and data intermediaries across seven communities to explore how to harness data and technology to benefit low-income residents. Three national organizations with local networks - Living Cities, Code for America, and the Urban Institute’s National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership – guided the initiative. To access case studies, cross-site lessons, and other project resources, visit https://www.neighborhoodindicators.org/ctdc.