Three and a half years ago, Root Change launched the Pando platform. Using collective intelligence to crowdsource relationship and feedback data, Pando is an online participatory network mapping tool that makes it possible to visualize, learn from, and engage with the systems where you work. The technology is the culmination of more than a decade of experience providing training and coaching on the use of social network analysis (SNA) to design, monitor, and evaluate systems change initiatives. But anyone working in tech for good will agree that ideas and practices change much faster than small budgets allocated for building and adapting tool suites allow. For this reason, Root Change has pivoted from trying to incorporate many competing user priorities onto the Pando platform, to creating dynamic, highly adaptive and customizable reports as a new feature in our growing Pando tool suite.
How does it work?
Don’t worry, the Pando platform is still alive and well! Those who enjoy the ease of the Pando interface can work in the online platform to invite users via email invitation, fill out organizational profiles with demographic data, enter relationship data, send reminder emails, and explore key actors on an interactive network map using analysis tools and filters. Those working in more low-tech areas can opt to collect relationship, demographic and feedback data using another surveying tool such as Microsoft, Google, Alchemer, or paper surveys. Each of these data collection formats can be run through our new analytic reports, which are written in Python coding language and run in Jupyter Notebook, a user-friendly interface for those new to working with coding scripts. Reports include similar features to the Pando platform, including interactive network maps and feedback graphs, but instead of needing a login to the Pando platform, reports can be downloaded in .html format and opened in any Internet browser.
What’s new and exciting?
Our dynamic reports are completely customizable and highly adaptive to user needs, from analytics and data visualization, to branding and even language translation. Simple additions to the analytics on Pando that we’ve included in our Network Foundations Report include bar charts of demographic data, better ease of exploring collaboration area sub-networks, and the addition of a contact list tab that acts as a map directory. Reports also include buttons to take static images for use in donor reports or presentations, and make it easy to compare change over time using time-stamped reports of system data.
Using this adaptive format, we’ve begun to create “thematic reports” based on development theories of change, like our Equity Report that measures local ownership in international development programs. The analytics included in this report are based on our Pando Local Learning System (LLS) White Paper that we co-wrote with our partner Keystone Accountability under USAID Local Works. The white paper, which supports the Agency’s Journey to Self-Reliance policy framework, outlines four key measures of local ownership: leadership, connectivity, mutuality, and finance. Each measure combines SNA and feedback data to look at whether local actors are able to lead decision making and receive recognition as experts, the degree to which local actors are trusted and respected by outsiders, and whether the flow of information, ideas and resources is improving in the local system. We already have a second iteration of this report that we’ve been using with partners under the USAID global Youth Excel program. This Equity Report has been customized to measure program effects on local youth-led organizations, adding even more complexity into the analysis capabilities and translated into Spanish to share back with program participants in Guatemala.
Where are we going from here?
Root Change is proud to share this new chapter in our participatory SNA and feedback work and we believe that it is a huge step forward for strengthening international development ecosystems. We’d love to geek out with you on other thematic reports, such as how to measure network resiliency, market systems, or something else! A goal of ours is to make the analytic code for these theories open source, or available for anyone to pick up and use or adapt. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have ideas or would like to collaborate with us on this exciting new tool suite!