sumApp - Gathering Your Network Data

sumApp - Gathering Your Network Data

What sumApp IS and ISN'T

sumApp is a data-gathering tool, not a data visualization tool.

There are a number of network graph visualization tools available. Some are open-source, some are proprietary and expensive. Some only work on a desktop, producing results only the operator can interact with. Other are online and collaborative. They require a range of coding skill or social network analysis expertise. Our favorite of them all is Kumu, because it's the most flexible, interactive and accessible.

But most of these viz tools do not GATHER data to visualize. And most data that can be obtained or gathered by other means (internally-stored or online data-sets, or normal survey data) is not structured in a way that network graph visualization tools can 'read'. And with data-sets of any size, structuring the data to be usable in a viz tool requires either coding skill or a LOT of patience and manual spreadsheet labor. So, while there are some great tools for visualizing graph network data out there, gathering the data and structuring it in a way that's usable to those tools is still a challenge for the average person.

That's the gap sumApp fills. We are a super-specialized type of survey. We make a very specific kind of data much easier to gather and use in any of the visualization tools out there.

sumApp is a data-gathering tool designed explicitly to get at information about the individuals and their relationships within a specific network.

It does:
  • Ask questions that YOU define, of a specific, pre-determined list of people, about themselves and their relationships to one another.
  • Export that data in a visualization-friendly format.
  • Track changes to the data over time
It does not:
  • Visualize the data that it gathers.
  • Generate statistics about or analysis of the gathered data.
  • Have a function that enables members to interact with one another directly (it's not a messaging app or an interactive social network friend/follow type platform).

Understanding sumApp Tiers

sumApp uses a 'freemium' software model. We offer four 'Tiers' of accounts, from free to $45/month/project (with 20% discount for annual subscriptions). The Tiers increase in functionality and complexity. One project is needed per network to be mapped. Only one person in a network - the 'administrator' - needs to open and pay for an account. All other members access the tool via an emailed link (no log-in necessary), at no cost.

Read more about sumApp Tiers

Understanding Data-Flows

Of course, the point of gathering the kind of data sumApp gathers isn't just to have the data itself. The purpose is almost always to visualize the data. So sumApp is not a stand-alone platform. The data needs to GO somewhere.

We originally designed sumApp to work with Kumu. Kumu allows for a live read-only incoming data-source connection, so we take advantage of that functionality and enable you to import your data automatically, in real time, into Kumu. Kumu also has an 'embed' functionality, which enables you to insert a the interactive Kumu map into another website. We use that as well, enabling you to include your map in a page in sumApp.

If you take advantage of these two features (the live json link into Kumu and the Kumu embed into sumApp) the data flows, automatically, almost instantly, in a circle from sumApp to Kumu and back again.

This data cycle is really cool, but it also inclines people to think that sumApp is the whole thing, that it is both gathering and visualizing. That's fine for most network members, but if you plan to administer a mapping project, you need to know which tool to interact with when, in order to accomplish your goals.

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