What Is Systems Mapping?

Systems mapping is a collaborative process that produces data-driven systems change using a public health model. Across every system, there are interested parties working towards a common goal. Their aim might be reducing homelessness, diverting individuals with behavioral health needs away from the criminal legal system, or keeping kids at home and out of the juvenile justice system. But these systems are complex, and there is usually limited collaboration between people who work in them on the county, state, and federal levels. This leads to system fragmentation, duplication of efforts, and gaps in resources.

Participants come together in a systems mapping event to create a map of their local networks. The map identifies existing resources, highlighting areas of need and opportunities for partnership. When agencies and institutions have a complete picture of how they interact with one another, they can work together to center their focus and efforts on the people they serve.

Why It’s Essential

These mappings help communities see systems clearly and make needed changes. The process results in a data-driven, collaborative public health framework to approach its issue(s) of focus. Cross-systems mapping allows working partners to identify gaps, resources, and opportunities at strategic moments. The aim is a coordinated, robust system that can work effectively toward solving a common goal.

Attendee Participation

Each participant in a systems mapping event may or may not be aware of their role in the broader system. It is common for people to see the landscape through the lens of their own agency or background. As a result, they may not be able to see overlaps and gaps that occur between service providers and other entities. When all participants work together to create a complete picture of the system, they can see where they stand and what is missing. Communities can then decide which needs to prioritize.

Process and Delivery

Our mapping events are typically conducted in person to allow the fullest collaboration and discussion possible. However, we also facilitate these events virtually. We tailor each event to suit your community’s needs.

Each mapping is unique to the requesting community and the topic of the mapping or training.

Typically, a systems mapping event includes the following structure using expert facilitators from the Systems Mapping and Training Center:

  • A series of preliminary planning calls are held to understand the community and its needs and identify necessary participants
  • Facilitators and site leads gather data to assess local needs
  • Facilitators and working partners host a systems mapping event to identify resources, gaps, and duplication via the creation of a systems map
  • Working partners use their map of the system to identify priorities for change and begin strategic planning
  • The facilitators prepare a final report that captures key details from the pre-event work and mapping event and provide recommendations and resources for implementation

View Our Systems Mapping Offerings

Sequential Intercept Model icon

Sequential Intercept Model Mapping Workshops

Homeless Response Systems Mapping

Homeless Response Systems Mapping

Crisis Intercept Map SMVF

Crisis Intercept Mapping for SMVF

Summit Strategic Planning Workshop
Summit Strategic Planning Workshop
competence to stand trial mapping - systems mapping
Competence to Stand Trial Mappings
critical intervention mapping for youth icon
Critical Intervention Mappings for Youth
How Being Trauma-Informed Improves Criminal Justice Responses
How Being Trauma Informed Improves Criminal Justice System Responses Train the Trainer
How Being Trauma Informed Improves Criminal Justice System Responses Train-the-Trainer
How Being Trauma-Informed Improves Judicial Decision-Making
SIM Facilitator Training

Follow-Up Assistance

Follow-up technical help is not always needed after your cross-systems mapping event. But some jurisdictions find additional assistance useful. If your community wants more support, the Systems Mapping Center is here. The Center can host follow-up meetings, give guidance and resources, or connect you with topic experts. These follow-up opportunities are offered on a fee-for-service basis if the need comes up.