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As more and more community activity moves online into hyperlocal blogs and onto social media sites, the opportunity to apply digital research tools for local community data gathering is becoming a reality. The RSA wanted to test digital research methods to map community assets to see if they could deliver similar results to the traditional face-to-face methods that we deploy in the Connected Communities work. With Nesta funding, we took on a micro research project to see if social media analytics might provide an alternative way to view a community’s assets and activities.

This collaborative research project, which we called “Community Mirror”, was carried out to understand the ways in which online data-gathering techniques compare to door-to-door research. We worked with the Royal College of Art (RCA) using their application to gather the online data and contrasted the findings with one of the RSA’s existing community research projects in the London Borough of Hounslow that used face-to-face methods.