Getting to grips with asset-mapping

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In their fourth How-to guide, Clive Miller & Alex Fox offer some practical steps for how to asset-map and how it can be built into the commissioning process.

Building an Asset-Based Area starts with the development and maintenance of a living map of its assets. Each area will have a huge – even bewildering – range of assets in the form people such as community leaders and volunteers, and community organisations and buildings. Foot and Hopkins in A Glass Half Full distinguish between three sets of asset holders each with differing and overlapping sets of assets.

  1. Individuals including families, residents and community members have experience, time and money.
  2. Associations such as self-help groups, community organisations and trades unions have networks, buildings and influence.
  3. Organisations commissioning and providing public services and businesses, have money, services and land.

The NHS Integrated Personalised Commissioning programme has published a guide to asset mapping. Some of the key questions they suggest should be answered by the people, communities and organisations involved in the mapping include: What information, on which assets, will be useful to whom to do what? How much time and effort is it worthwhile putting into both mapping the assets and keeping the picture up to date? Remember, you are rarely starting from scratch: others will have collected at least some of this information. Where possible, asset maps should be ‘open source’, with a wide range of local people able to update and use them.

Asset-based commissioning devolve decision-making as close to the point at which action is being taken, via co-commissioning at different levels by people, communities and organisations.  At each level, asset-mapping can be built into continuing commissioning processes:

  • Wide area level (e.g a whole local authority area) – Wakefield’s Joint Strategic Need and Assets Assessments aggregate data on community assets from a range of sources. The Yorkshire and Humber Public Health Observatory analyses readily-available local assets data against the six Marmot Review policy themes.
  • Community – the Wellbeing and Resilience Measure (WARM) approach has five stages, beginning with measuring wellbeing and the relationships and systems in place to support it at a neighbourhood level. Matching the wellbeing with vulnerability data and benchmarking it against council-wide and national data, produces a map of neighbourhood resilience. Asset-based community development begins by enabling communities to recognise the assets that already exist and decide how they wish to make use of, and further develop, them.
  • Individual – using the In Control, Real Wealth framework, asset-based, self-directed support starts by enabling people to consider what they could be better enabled to do for themselves and what community assets could offer them, both the support they require and opportunities to contribute they desire. The Year of Care methodology helps people map their own skills, abilities and aspirations.  The EU-GENIE project involves people in social network mapping, as part of social prescribing linking patients with useful resources. An on-line navigational tool captures details of networks and local assets.

Alex Fox. (2017)   The Asset-Based Area. Online: Coalition for Collaborative Care, Shared Lives Plus, and Think Local, Act Personal. Available at:

Richard Field and Clive Miller. (2017) Asset-based commissioning: better outcomes, better value. Bournemouth: Bournemouth University. Available as a free download, in both its full (215 pp) and digested versions (11pp), from (opens new window)  

* This how-to guide is one of a series of 13 that puts flesh on the bones of the vision of Asset-Based Areas and how they can be developed.