Mapping the local ecosystem

Understanding local urban ecosystems holistically to find opportunities
Mapping a local ecosystem may involve understanding the material and waste flows of a city, contextualizing people's narratives, or exploring existing knowledge resources. Under the CENTRINNO approach, mapping local resources is key to understanding the productive capacity of an urban area and find the gaps where specific micro missions may enable impactful change.
Mapping the local ecosystem and finding potential gaps and opportunities may create changes by:
  • Increasing access and connection to information, communities, projects and initiatives related to the local distributed creative and productive ecosystems.
  • Embracing emergence of new needs, projects, and organisations through open and resilient structures amidst rapidly changing and hazardous environments.
  • Engaging with and creating new institutions through experimentation and prototyping of diverse assemblages of actors and functions.
  • Activating interactions and facilitating connections and collaborations among the different actors active in urban environments.
The main project platform to explore the potential to activate these changes is the CENTRINNO Cartography. Within this platform, you may also fins a series of tools and methods that will support your city in identifying gaps and opportunities for citizens and organisations to be part of sustainable urban regeneration processes. Pilot cities' micro missions may include mapping their social, natural and industrial resources. CENTRINNO’s understanding of resources includes the interconnections between material availability and flows, the local material and immaterial heritage, local stories and existing knowledge, techniques and processes used in manufacturing activities, or stakeholders and local audiences, among others.
Narrowing down the scope and lens of analysis may be a good starting point. This may involve selecting a specific type of resource, such as plastics, a type of actor, such as SMEs working on manufacturing activities, or by looking at a specific activity related to a space or community, such as the materials, people and knowledge needed to transform a warehouse into a textile lab, or the food waste generated by local restaurants in a neighbourhood. In the following lines, we present some examples on how tools can be used to change practices.
The Urban Resources Mapping Guidebook includes several methods and tools to perform activities that could increase access and connection to information. Some of these methods are Geo-Spatial Analysis, Stakeholder Surveying, or Material Flow Analysis. Material Flow Analysis and the analysis of Material Stocks are key approaches in CENTRINNO to develop initial top-analyses to find gaps and opportunities in our ecosystem. Understanding the movement and availability of materials will unfold opportunities for pilot cities to foster, through new products and companies, circular manufacturing in industrial historic sites. This process is supported by Metabolic, project partner of CENTRINNO. While Material Stock and Material Flow Analysis focus on materials, Geo-Spatial Analysis could be used to map any type of resources, and Stakeholder Surveying is used to map actors and actor-based processes. The latter is also a key method to engage stakeholders if used in combination with other tools.
Collecting, analysing data and sharing it with other partners and stakeholders is key to put topics in the public agenda from the bottom-up, and allows citizens to stirr the public debate of the urban regeneration process, or highlighting potential gaps and opportunities for the circular economy that makers and new productive activities may be able to address.

Practice: Embracing emergence of new needs, projects, and organisations through open and resilient structures

The Smart Citizen Toolkit is a toolkit thought for participatory environmental maker practices that enables gathering data on a specific topic key to a community, while fostering active intervention in its surroundings. In CENTRINNO, the data managed could be used to map issues around physical transformation of historical industrial sites (noise, pollution, etc.), to draw comparisons between the impact of different economic activities (circular manufacturing, traditional industry, or office spaces), or to show the local potential for new activities (e.g., soil quality sensors to map potential for urban agriculture). Some activities around this toolkit (developing the sensor kits, co-defining the issue to be addressed, or data-sharing events) may also be used to build a community of practice. Activities using the Smart Citizen Toolkit may involve the Smart Citizen Platform, with more than 9000 registered users and visualized data of more than 1900 unique sensors.
Involving citizens in mapping and managing data is key to develop informed communities that are active stakeholders in the urban regeneration process.

Practice: Engaging with and creating new institutions through experimentation and prototyping of diverse assemblages of actors

Other tools, such as Personas, Participation Maps or Neighbourhood typologies may also be used both to have a better understanding of the local ecosystem and co-developing a community of practice. These tools are described in more detail in the next chapter, but they can be used to confront and debate different perspectives on the city's neighbourhoods, or to scope together with other partners different configurations of stakeholders.
The experimentation with new institutions where citizens, local organisations and produces play a role, will showcase innovative governance assemblages for alternative urban regeneration processes.

Practice: Activating interactions and facilitating connections and collaborations among the different actors active in urban environments

The previous actions, aiming at changing the three first practices, lay the ground to experiment with new interactions and connections between information, needs and new institutions. These interactions are referred as Synergizing, convening and connecting in the CENTRINNO Cartography and they are part of the final step pilot cities enable through this platform.
Tools and methods to map your local ecosystem