netWORKS: Open Source Software to visualize and analyze networks of human development. Center for Development Cooperation, BarcelonaTECH. With the collaboration of Information Works
netWORKS is a data warehouse to help to visualize development cooperation projects. The aim behind this visualization tool is to optimize the resources used to evaluate and sponsor projects (e.g. at a development cooperation agency) and also to visualize the networks that explicitly or implicitly form when different organizations work in development projects.
netWORKS, the tool, is free, and Information Works, the company behind it, is working to get funding to implement it in development cooperation agencies or any other kind of organization working for development.
The tool enables the user to quickly identify the most relevant actors in one field or in one place. It also helps in identifying points of intersection between two or more organizations or between two or more fields of work. It is actually easy to see what organizations are relate one to each other, which one is a key node or a hub that many others work with, which projects are related in a way that they cover similar issues and could end teaming up and working together, etc.
A good exercise to do is analyzing personal networks: searching for a contact, the visualization shows who is a central person but also what people are strongly related amongst them so that they form a team or an active and close community. It also will show who is only slightly connected to that community — through one or two nodes — and would benefit from a closer and broader relationship with the rest of the members of that community.
The tool can also help in finding out the best contact, how diversified or specialized is a person. It can indeed help to find or to decide how to choose a non-existing profile: by performing complex queries, it is possible to cross data from projects, people and topics and find out, within the database, who would be the best candidate to lead the next project.