Strengthening local social capital by gathering and sharing community related data.
The project facilitates the communication and dissemination of knowledge, events, and values of place attachment and identity across social networks, neighbourhood groups, and individuals. By collecting and rendering events (as well as interruptions of the "business as usual") that led to the establishment of the Meadows community, it serves as an evolving record of the history and identity of the Meadows, and provides a "voice" and dissemination platform to what is seen as local but dispersed community social capital. In the long run, this can potentially increase community resilience.
Local Task Force
Researchers from the University of Nottingham (UoN) and University College Dublin (UCD) developed the theoretical background and initiated the GeoTimeline project. Alongside to the research, website developers have created the interface and the online tool. The community members feed into the website by providing information.
The GeoTimeline concept was developed in collaboration between the UCD and the local UoN. Using resources from the TURAS project and local connections from former projects as leverage, the website was developed by professionals and launched as a beta prototype. The GeotTmeline combines long-term historical and topographical data about the evolution of the Meadows, changes in infrastructure provision, phases of urban development and regeneration with the community and social network events, and the potential of uploading memories, facts, and ideas by community members. This information input in the GeoTimeline was sourced from community members (during focus groups), meetings with community representatives and from desktop research conducted by the researchers. The website is now up and running and can be populated with new data. Click here to visit website
There was no direct frontrunner project or existing framework for the Meadows GeoTimeline. Currently, there is also no link to the political level. The concept was implemented in the course of the TURAS project, based on information deemed to be useful that was collected from community members. Until today, it is not clear how the process of "collecting information" will be facilitated beyond the duration of the project.
The GeoTimeline website main obstacle was the low usage rate since it was launched, which resulted in a minimal population of the website. This could be resolved by introducing the GeoTimeline website to community members during social community events. Still, the community lacks proper internet access and some IT skills which are needed to access the website. Therefore, an implementation strategy is necessary that supports the introduction of community-related information in other formats before adding this information into the timeline. This benefits the project but needs continuous management and evaluation.
The GeoTimeline was leveraged by several funds of different backgrounds, but mainly the researchers from TURAS, who helped in setting up and populating the GeoTimeline. An important resource in terms of personal time, and essential to the GeoTimeline, was the involvement of the community members and representatives, mainly through community events.
Strokes of Luck
The previous professional involvement of the UoN researchers, with members of MOZES (community-based company set-up in The Meadows), facilitated the engagement of the community in the GeoTimeline development. Hence, several community events could be used to promote the tool and leverage activities from within the community.
Due to the short time-frame since the launch of the timeline the results are too limited at this stage to identify any significant measurable changes in terms of community resilience. But more data from the community level is now available and made visible through one access point.
The GeoTimeline promotes the dissemination and exchange of explicit but also of tacit knowledge on the values of place attachment and identity inherent in a community of place. This knowledge is one kind of community capital, potentially harnessing community resilience and social sustainability.
Key lesson learned - Lucelia explains
"The gathering and sharing of community-related data via the Community GeoTimeline are equally beneficial for planners, researchers and the local authorities as for the community itself. Researchers can co-relate this very rich source of information with other data such as statistics and spatial information. This can reveal internal relationships or path-dependencies of current developments, such as the relationship between changes in infrastructure and social adaptation, and enable joint learning. For the community, the crowd-sourcing activity reveals information that would otherwise be inaccessible. Potentially it brings together people that are sharing the same interests. But it is suggested that local authorities could assist in setting up local GeoTimeline by providing training and resources with ownership remaining open to community members."
Lucelia Rodrigues, UoN