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The ODI has developed a new guide to help organisations identify and map data ecosystems. Izy Champion gives the rundown and asks for feedback on how it works and examples of your ecosystem maps for the tool

The ODI has been looking at how open data could be used to deliver public services through our research and development programme.

When we started, we knew we needed a method of capturing the variety of ways that people and organisations collaborate to deliver services that would help us clearly communicate this to others. To do this, we developed the ecosystems mapping tool, which we’re sharing openly today for others to use and give feedback on.

We built on the methodology of rich picturing as a way to visually represent systems in enough detail to capture the reality of how they operate.

The tool isn’t just useful for creating a visual map of how data is shared across an ecosystem that exists around a product or service. By testing its use in a variety of projects, we realised ecosystem maps can help identify key data stewards, users and their relationships. They can also help to communicate where and how value is created by using open data.  This is something we’ve found particularly useful when contexts are complex, not well understood or not yet fully developed.

The ecosystem mapping tool includes outlines for how to use it in a workshop setting, and occasions when you want to map out an ecosystem by yourself or with a smaller group. We’ve also suggested tools to help tidy up and share the maps you create.

We're keen to see how the tool can be applied in new projects and contexts, such as exploring whether it can be useful to map ecosystems that organisations are hoping to create through publishing open data, or whether different contexts may require adjustments (based on language, culture, location). We welcome feedback from different countries and contexts on how it works and how it could be improved to make sure that the ecosystem mapping tool is truly useful.

We want your feedback

To develop and test tools that are useful, we need your feedback:

  • Share your thoughts/feedback in the comments or email them to [email protected]
  • Share your use cases, example ecosystem maps and the feedback you get on them
  • Get in touch if you’d like to talk to the ODI about how we can support you to better understand the data ecosystems which surround your products

Read the guide 'Mapping data ecosystems'