Building an Asset Map

An interactive asset map provides network members with an easy way to identify the resources, areas of expertise, and geographic regions present across the network — and to connect with each other. Following is an overview of how to collect the data you’ll need and how to build an asset map using the mapping software Kumu.

Example asset map

Collecting the Data

The first step is to identify and collect the data you need. This usually includes basic contact information like name, title, affiliation, and email address, as well as information relevant to your network, such as areas of expertise, functional skills, connections with other stakeholder groups, and geographic focus. 

We strongly recommend that you have a limited number of options for participants to select within each category — otherwise, you will have a much harder time sorting through the information later. 

As you build your asset map, consider also collecting connectivity data. With connectivity data, you can create a social network analysis (SNA) that indicates how people are connected to one another. This can take multiple forms, including the strength of the relationships people have, how much they are communicating, how often they are considered a source of guidance or support, and the degree to which they are collaborating with one another. Click here to learn how to conduct a social network analysis. 

An asset map consists of individual data, and a social network analysis consists of connectivity data. When combined together, however, we can create what’s known as a “social system map.”

Data for an asset map can be collected with physical (analog) or online surveys. In our experience, the most effective way to capture this information is with sumApp, a survey tool specifically built for network mapping. The beauty of sumApp is that it integrates perfectly with mapping software including Kumu and Graph Commons, so that the data collected in sumApp is automatically updated in the resulting network maps. sumApp will also provide each participant with a unique survey link, which they can return to at any time to update their information. This makes it very easy to keep the asset map current and to add new participants as the network evolves. sumApp also incorporates an easy way for participants to upload a photo of themselves, which is a critical part of a good asset map.

sumApp has multiple pricing tiers. While sumApp offers a free version that might suffice for a basic SNA, it is necessary to upgrade to Tier 2 to properly create your asset map survey.

Once you’ve decided what type of information you’d like to collect, you can add the names and email addresses of all participants into sumApp, and then build your survey within the software. Once you’re all set, you can copy the JSON link that sumApp provides and connect it to your map in Kumu or Graph Commons. 

Building an Asset Map

While Graph Commons is a great software as well, I’ll be focusing on building an asset map in Kumu through the rest of this post. Kumu is free for public projects, or you can host private password-protected projects with a monthly subscription

Get started by creating a new project and choosing from one of Kumu’s templates. For a network of fewer than 200 participants, use the “Stakeholder template,” and for a map of more than 200 participants it’s probably a good idea to choose the “Big data template”. 

Once your project is created, connect your JSON link from sumApp by clicking on the big green plus icon, selecting “Import”, and pasting the JSON link into the box titled “Link map to remote JSON”. Now all the data from your sumApp survey will be automatically integrated into this map!

Use Kumu’s editor in the right hand sidebar by clicking the settings icon. You can use their basic editor to color the nodes (representing survey respondents). The key for an asset map, however, lies in creating filters that users can use to find others in the network based on a set of criteria. For this, you will need to use the advanced editor. Follow this link for an example Kumu social system map, shown below. 

Example social system map

This example map can help inform your own map design, with code you can use to create your own filters. Once in the map, you can open the advanced editor by clicking on the settings icon - three horizontal lines) on the right-side of the map, and then clicking “switch to advanced editor.”

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License