Cookies on this website

We use cookies to make our website work properly. We'd also like your consent to use analytics cookies to collect anonymous data such as the number of visitors to the site and most popular pages.

I'm OK with analytics cookies

Don't use analytics cookies

Home / Resources / News / How big data can help us better understand the civic economy

How big data can help us better understand the civic economy

From peer to peer sharing to hyper local campaigning , it’s never been easier through social networks and crowd funding platforms for people to set up a group to campaign on issues that matter to them or pool their resources to provide services to meet unmet needs. But many of these are off the radar of policy makers looking to understand the impact of the civic economy.

Through our research on how young people make a living across Europe, we identified a new tribe of people called “Lifestyle Hackers” who are creating new forms of civic economy under the radar. At our recent Transeuropa Festival, we brought together these lifestyle hackers and neo-nomads to develop solutions to better explore these new lifestyles.

One of the outcomes was to develop a project to better understand their social impact and how these groups connect with each other to develop these new ways of building society.

We’d like to announce that NESTA has funded us to bring this project to life which will last from April 2014 – March 2015! Along with the other successful organisations – Demos, the Royal Society of Arts, NCVO and Cardiff University – we’ll be developing new ways of using data-driven methods for understanding the social economy.
We will use big data and social network analysis to identify the location, level and type of participation of these groups. By visualising the relationships between thematically related groups below the radar, we will identify key actors who can help make links between existing and new groups.

Visualising the social impact and social networks within each project and organisation, will help these organisations to understand how they can better support and motivate their members.

The interactive website we will develop will also enable policy makers and commissioners / investors to identify them in their local or thematic area.

We will build on our experience developing research methods to map groups below the radar in the social economy, including creating new innovative methods to collect the data, developing different methods to map groups below the radar and visualising outputs to illustrate the findings and trends.

Below you can find an overview of our work to date in this area.

Developing different methods to map groups below the radar

We’ve trained 30 young people to identify, engage with and document the social impact of groups below the radar across Europe through our Transeuropa Caravans project. We’ve identified 40 civic initiatives which work with public services, the market & communities and evaluating their social impact. We’ve mapped how young people cope with making a living, through surveying hundreds of people across Europe, accompanied by in-depth interviews. We’ve also worked with hundreds of groups below the radar in over 30 cities across Europe to identify issues and develop proposals through our Citizens Pact.

Creating new innovative methods to collect data on the civic economy

We’ve developed a method using walking tours to uncover groups using unusual behaviours to tackle needs, working with social researchers, artists, storytellers and civic entrepreneurs. We’ve used social network analysis to identify groups to collaborate with.

Visualising outputs to illustrate the findings and trends

We’ve developed scenarios and infographics based on the data from the Making a Living project and to develop challenges for people to co-design activities for the Transeuropa Festival. We’ve trained young people to evaluate policies through the AAA Citizens Rating Agency project.

The methods we will develop will notably be used to map groups below the radar across Europe, building on our Transeuropa Caravans project and be used to help us develop the Transeuropa Festivals across our 13 cities. The methods will also be shared with our partners to help them identify groups below the radar in their respective domains