Community Mirror: A Data-Driven Method for ‘Below the Radar’ Research

How do online data-gathering techniques compare to door-to- door research in understanding how a local community works?

Nesta Working Paper 15/07
Issued: May 2015


This report presents the findings of a study undertaken between June 2014 and November 2014 with the project at the Royal College of Art (RCA), using the RSA’s existing on-the-ground research conducted for the London Borough of Hounslow.

This collaborative research project, Community Mirror, was carried out to understand the ways in which online data-gathering techniques compared to door-to- door research in understanding how a local community works.

The study concludes that digital methodologies do offer a promising approach to mapping the ‘below the radar’ social economy assets. There was a significant amount of overlap between the community assets mapped by the two different research approaches, with 31% of the community assets surfaced in the offline research also discovered by the LocalNets online app.


Gaia Marcus, RSA

Jimmy Tidey, Royal College of Art

The Nesta Working Paper Series is intended to make available early results of research undertaken or supported by Nesta and its partners in order to elicit comments and suggestions for revisions and to encourage discussion and further debate prior to publication (ISSN 2050-9820). The views expressed in this working paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of Nesta.


Peter Baeck

Peter Baeck

Peter Baeck

Director of the Centre for Collective Intelligence Design

Peter leads work that explores how combining human and machine intelligence can develop innovative solutions to social challenges.

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