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Our square mile

Mapping our own square miles in a flexible and inclusive way.

Members: 45
Latest Activity: May 25

A square mile is a familiar measurement and a popular concept. Currently, it's being used in a formal way by at least 2 projects (by the Big Society Network's Your square mile and by the arts project 1mile2). But everyone's square mile is different. Let's start mapping our own square miles in a flexible, overlapping and inclusive way.


NB: This also links closely with some of the ideas being put forward on Help Evolve Our Society and being mapped here, especially Create Local Maps of Existing Activity

Discussion Forum

Cathy Aitchison


Started by Cathy Aitchison. Last reply by John Popham May 20. 8 Replies

I'm not the best person to write an introduction to Todmorden, so I'll just say that this discussion is a place to add links and information about the town, which is one of the …Continue

Steven Clift

Public - Members Only - Private?

Started by Steven Clift. Last reply by Steven Clift Apr 10. 2 Replies

So what makes sense to you? I noted that John Popham pick up on this: Comment by John…Continue

Steven Clift

Neighbours helping neighbours - roots in e-democracy, community sites, and more

Started by Steven Clift. Last reply by Jeff Mowatt Mar 30. 15 Replies

 Thank you for the welcoming notes when I joined. While I am posting from Minneapolis, I've spent a fair amount of time in the UK and even worked with three of the UK National Local e-Democracy…Continue

David Wilcox

Round-up of Your Square Mile developments

Started by David Wilcox. Last reply by Jeff Mowatt Mar 30. 7 Replies

Update: things are moving fast prior to the official announcement of Big Lottery funding for Your Square Mile, due on March 25 (see below). There's now an official YSM website - or at least a holding…Continue

Tags: bigsociety, yoursquaremile

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Jeff Mowatt Comment by Jeff Mowatt on May 25, 2011 at 9:45am

John, I was kind of poking fun at this a few months ago, when repeatedly informed by these so called Digital Natives, that a preceding generation 'just don't get it'.

For all my online engagement, there wasn't a sign of them before making these declarations of an unique perspective. 

John Popham Comment by John Popham on May 25, 2011 at 8:28am



Re. engaging the people you call "Digital Natives" (a term I hate - I prefer Digital Residents and Visitors). By far the most effective way of engaging with young people is likely to be via a Facebook Group. Facebook is where they hang out and they're unlikely to stray too far away from their home territory looking for information


Lorna Prescott Comment by Lorna Prescott on May 25, 2011 at 7:48am
Hi Chris
Great to see you here. I met with Nick Booth on Monday to talk about the DYA work and see if there was something we could offer together. We've got some ideas which we'd like to talk to you, Jon and Rob about, and also a separate strategic approach which we'll pitch to the LSP.
See you soon
Gavin Comment by Gavin on May 24, 2011 at 6:32pm

Hi Chris

Liken you, I am struggling to get a cross section of the community involved. I recently took advice from William Perrin, from Talk About Local who suggested that I   had to segment my audience and use a method appropriate to each. The Google map might be just one and it was important to involve people in the design, not go it alone.

The main piece of work that I have been doing is mapping grassroots organisations across Southampton. The aim is to share this map so local groups and resident associations can upload and amend their details directly. This is still in the development stage and my main task it to try and get people to amend and update their details rather than go through me

 I did a little exercise in customers segmentation suggested by William Perrin and I share this below in case it gives you any ideas.

Customer Segmentation

Public service agencies/ other teams in the local authority: much interest in this initiative but little buy-in as yet. Frontline staff, particularly those assigned to an area or ‘patch’, quickly see the advantage of having a visual directory of groups and associations with contact details.

Resident and community associations- definite curiosity and interest but also puzzlement. Many resident associations are run by committed people who tend to be older and less IT literate. A good few don’t even use email and many are not easily persuaded that the internet offers a free and cost effective way to communicate, organise and advocate on issues close to their heart. The method most appropriate to this group probably remains face to face contact, although I am now working with someone to lay on very basic IT sessions.

Digital natives- younger age group who are much more at ease in using the internet and social media tools such as Facebook. This is a target group that I have yet to engage.  The map may be of interest, but evening meetings at a resident association will not. The map probably needs to be embedded in a website which includes an online discussion board or blog where they can raise issues of concern.  

Newcomers to Southampton; we get roughly 10,000 new arrivals a year coming to study, work, join family and around the same number leaving. This is a separate stream from international migrants. There will obviously be a very mixed ability in terms of IT skills but all will probably have some curiosity about the neighbourhood in which they find themselves.

Youth: again I have had little contact but I think it is unlikely that a young single age group would be interested in a map that showed little in the way of youth activities. (There are scout groups and some youth centres but more information needs to be added). Youth engagement probably needs a mix of new technology (mobile phone communication ) skilled face to face advice and support (given growing youth unemployment and the implications for anti-social behaviour), and peer mentor schemes such as that provided by Resync.

I have one further suggestion which may help. I divide my time between Barnet, London and Southampton. Recently a PCSO called to say that there had been a burglary in the street and asked us to check the back doors and windows before we went out. She then went on to ask if I wanted to sign up to an email bulletin to keep me updated on community safety issues. I’m sure this was not a marketing ploy but mention of the burglary got my attention and I signed up straight away (we all did). Now there is a germ of a good idea here but so far, communication has been one way- it is useful to receive bulletins but why not create something more interactive to get feedback from local people-ideas, suggestions, opinions and so on? Why not widen it to include more than just crime and anti social behaviour issues but youth needs, health issues and so on? I’m sure that other public agencies would be interested in the kind of online network created by the community safety team and might even co-fund it.

Anyway, hope this helps!

David Wilcox Comment by David Wilcox on May 20, 2011 at 5:28pm

Following a piece in the design press (you may hit a paywall) Your Square Mile MD Jamie Cowen confirmed in an email:

"We have recently appointed a combined team from Conran & Singh and Headshift to deliver our central digital platform. We made the appointment based on the respective agency's skills in developing brilliant user interfaces and intelligently-developed customer engagement programmes. We felt that a partnership of this kind rather than a one-stop shop solution represents best value as we have best in class people working collaboratively on their respective components of the project. The Big Lottery New Media team were involved in our pitching process. We are still working with Social Go re. local community digital hubs. We also continueto work with Antidote as our branding partner.
The digital platform will be live at the end of September."


Jamie says he will blog something later. This is Headshift 


Here's some key points from the article:

The platform will allow people to set up, or become members of, their own Your Square Mile team.

Stephen Barber, head of strategy at Conran Singh, says the experience will be 'inherently social' and that on a local level the site will look to connect people.

'Maybe there is an elderly person who needs help with something and someone on the same street can offer that. We can create access to information and tools,' says Barber.

Profiling people as individuals will allow for 'linking up common ideas and beliefs', says Barber, who believes geotagging and 'rich information' will be brought into the site.

'There are going to be issues around privacy in terms of what is visible and what isn't. However, they will be overcome as we develop more in-depth,' according to Barber.

The third variable - time - is determined by when people can offer help and for how long. This information will be fed into the platform with the other variables, to ensure collectively 'a deeper civil engagement', says Barber.

Site features will include a personal planner for users to establish which skills they can contribute, an interactive area showing how local authorities around the country are operated from the outside to enact change, a tool kit to initiate a Your Square Mile group, and video case studies of successful social entrepreneurs.


Chris Dowen Comment by Chris Dowen on May 17, 2011 at 10:47am



I am really interested in what you and John Popham are doing. We are trying to get the views of local people about the crime & safety issues in their area so that we can design the appropriate responses to their needs. We need to get a good cross section of the community involved, and community meetings are not particularly representative. I am interested in any advice or ideas wither of you have.


I am working with Young Advisors from Connexions in Dudley. We are trying to idnetify the best way to use Social Media to listen to the views of young people, and get them engaged in action to resolve these issues.

Gavin Comment by Gavin on May 11, 2011 at 9:29am
Thanks John. Have contacted Jaki and it seems as though we can do something here- apparently a good few university students are interested in this idea. Will also contact Jaki's brother as he has been working with Housing Associations and I have been in recent contact with HA's in Southampton.
John Popham Comment by John Popham on May 6, 2011 at 8:39pm

Hi Gavin


Surgeons are normally recruited via Twitter or Facebook. Advertising is via local vol/comm networks, e.g Southampton Voluntary Services and on socialmediasurgery.com


Some useful sources of information on Social Media Surgeries are here, here and the videos and audio here 

Gavin Comment by Gavin on May 6, 2011 at 8:17pm
Hi John- where do you recruit your volunteers from? local colleges? how do you advertise? thanks
John Popham Comment by John Popham on May 4, 2011 at 11:03am



Most Social Media Surgeries run with no money at all. We blag free venues, free tea and coffee, and free wifi. And the Surgeons are all volunteers



Members (44)

David Wilcox Jeff Mowatt Cathy Aitchison Shaun Murray Steven Clift John Popham Barney Mynott Emma Lees julian dobson Gavin Alan McDonald Susie Hay Simon Redding Matthew James Derounian Alex Stobart Mike Riddell Rasmus Joergensen Phil Green Jack Coutts Paul Webster RickWaghorn Sean Brady Sally Brace Chris Dowen Foster Evans Stephen Dale Nick Gardner Fiona White Dave Briggs

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