Need Finding


There are many reasons why you might choose to use geographical mapping, depending on which stage of the campaign you have reached. In the early stages, you might want to find out anecdotally the nature and location of problem hotspots. Perhaps you might also want to cross reference these hotspots with helpful data, such as proximity to resources, schools, hospitals and neighbourhood associations, as well as to the participants themselves. At a sensing stage, a map can help you devise a sensing strategy by visually representing the location of the sensors you will deploy. The key with geographical mapping is to make it a hands-on affair, with participants discussing and mapping the issues themselves, so that they too can fully understand the magnitude of the issue at hand.

Format Method, WorkshopTimeframe < 1hGroup Size AllFacilitation Level LowRequired Materials Pen and paper, Post its, Scissors


  • Divide the community members into groups. Give each group an A3 map (minimum size), sticker dots of different colours, and several A4 icon sheets containing icons relevant to the subject. These can be supplemented with other icons (e.g. Lego figures).
  • Have groups discuss their questions and concerns regarding the issue(s) of concern, thinking about the location(s) which seem(s) to affect them the most, before using the map and icon sheets to map out their findings.
  • Additionally, map out resources and other factors that contribute to the problem, as well as those that might help solve the problem. It is very useful to have the participants add brightly coloured sticker dots to locate themselves on the map to see exactly how the community is organised.
  • Present and discuss findings to make sure everyone is of one mind. If working with multiple groups, collate the findings onto a larger map, and keep this visible when developing sensing strategies.


By visually mapping out issues of concern in collaborative workshops, you can often discover things you might otherwise have missed.


Keep in mind the guiding question while implementing this method: where does the issue occur, and why does it happen there?
Download Tool Supporting Files Not available