Posts Tagged ‘integral vital signs monitor’

A new integral paradigm for the city arose from both practise and engagement with many of the cities I have lived in (including Toronto) and from my study and application of the Integral Model.

Toronto: Site of Meeting of the Minds 2013

Toronto: Site of Meeting of the Minds 2013

Designing Integral Vital Signs Model

A precept of the Integral Model is its definition of “holon”. A holon is both a whole system in its own right, while at the same time being part of a larger whole system. Such is the natural “order” of complex living systems – cells, organelles, organs, individuals, teams, organizations, communities, cities, nation/states – all of which have been well studied by interdisciplinary research teams in Panarchy and Living Systems (Gunderson & Holling, 2002; Miller, 1978). Wilber (1995) coined such a set of nested holons, a “holarchy”.

In addition, what Wilber’s Integral Model added to the quantitative picture of the outer life of human systems, was the qualitative picture of the inner life of human systems – namely, consciousness and culture.

It was thus my conclusion, that in order for monitors and metrics of city wellbeing to be truly integral, they must integrate metrics from the four quadrants (as identified in my earlier blog).

Furthermore, as many complexity-oriented practitioners have noted, the city is a composite of many different scales that co-exist and dynamically impact one another. So it is a challenge to present a model that captures the complexity of the four quadrants, holons and measures of wellbeing[1].

The schematic that presented as a starting point for this exploration has become what I call Map 2 in my book (Hamilton, 2008). In this holarchy, the nest of holons begins with the individual resident of the city, and locates him/her in all the other holons to which they are a member.

Integral City Map 2: The Nested Holarchy of City Systems

Integral City Map 2: The Nested Holarchy of City Systems

In this way, each holarchy starts with an individual represented by his/her inner and outer realities (representing Upper Left and Upper Right quadrants); then is nested in a series of collective holons, to which the individual (simultaneously) belongs. Each collective is essentially a different scale of human system that represents a different set of collective contexts for individual reality (but each represents a version of Lower Left and Lower Right quadrants). A simple way to see this is that Janet (our individual holon) belongs to the Family Smith, baseball team A, workplace Task Force B, school class C, health district D, community E, and city F.


In experimenting with the relevance of this Integral Holarchy, I have found that it offers very useful organizing principles for a set of vital signs monitors for the city. The Integral frame prompts us to look for metrics from every quadrant (qualitative and quantitative data for individuals and collectives). The Holarchy frame prompts us to seek data from every scale. And the wellbeing target frame suggests we find data that can be defined by targets measured in terms of a traffic light system (e.g. Blue = exceeds target; Green = on target; Yellow = off target; Orange = health threat zone; Red = health danger zone).

Luckily in our modern data producing era, data is not something that we are short of. Our governments, agencies and organizations are veritable data producing machines. Rather what we lack is effective data mining and interpreting frameworks that can detect the patterns that can inform us. Thus, with little effort, we can identify data sources in the city, and with an Integral Vital Signs Monitor frame we now have tools to make sense of what that data is telling us about wellbeing.

Although it may well take more political will to release that data for monitoring purposes, it is entirely possible to prototype wellbeing monitors for the city. I have done this for a series of research projects that has produced a template for organizing the data (as posted on the Integral City website here ). And thanks to partners, Gaiasoft, I have been able to model the prototype as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Integral Vital Signs Monitor

Figure 1: Integral Vital Signs Monitor

The value of this prototype is that it shows us how we can make new sense out of the human systems that make up our cities. Moreover it calls the many owners of our data to come to the same table and not only share what information they have accumulated, but to contribute to a whole new paradigm for monitoring city wellbeing.  These data providers can now realize that they co-own insights, that open in an entirely new way the interconnections amongst the supply chains in the city and enable a meshwork to emerge. (A “meshwork” weaves together the best of two operating systems — one that self-organizes, and one that replicates hierarchical structures. The resulting meshwork creates and aligns complex responsive structures and systems that flex and flow.) And for the first time we may be able to appreciate that our supply chains connect and impact our inner lives of consciousness and cultures as much as our outer lives of biology and infrastructure. That is the beginning of being able to design a monitoring systems that appreciates and enables the city to see itself as a whole living system.

And what is more, it may contribute and expand to standards that are emerging in an ISO Standard for cities.


Gunderson, L. C., & Holling, C. S. (Eds.). (2002). Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems Washington, DC: Island Press.

Hamilton, M. (2008). Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences for the Human Hive. Gabriola Island BC: New Society Publishers.

Miller, J. G. (1978). Living Systems. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company.

Wilber, K. (1995). Sex, Ecology and Spirituality: the spirit of evolution. Boston: Shambhala Publications Inc.

Appendix A: Example of Prototyping Template

[1] For the sake of this blog, I am assuming that measures of wellbeing are identifiable and can be defined in terms of desired targets. The assumptions related to this have been documented in my book “Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences for the Human Hive”.

Note: In my earlier blog introducing the Meeting of the Minds 2013 Conference, I explained a Brief History of Integral City. Part of that city background was my experience and accreditation, in accounting as well as human systems. Thus, my praxis of the city soon lead me to consider how to notice wellbeing in the city and what metrics might be appropriate to monitor it.

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From an Integral Vital Signs Monitor design, the Integral Scorecard can become the reporting vehicle for informing all the stakeholders of the city.

It tells us whether we are achieving the purpose and objectives of the city in a sustainable way. It reveals to us if we are amassing the energy, matter and information that we need to sustain ourselves. It is a way of mapping capacity and potential and has the power to reveal imbalances that indicate unsustainable practices.

Navigating intelligence using IVSM works hand in hand with Meshworking intelligence to design new governance systems that research, plan  and manage the city.

Three simple rules for applying Integral City Navigating Intelligences

  1. Select the future destination of the city based on its vision.
  2. Design and implement integral dashboards, using integral indicators of wellbeing for the city.
  3. Notice outcomes and make course corrections to enable progress naturally.


This blog is a prologue to the Integral City webinar conference  City 2.0 Co-Creating the Future of the Human Hive . We are inventing a new operating system for the city.  Click to get more details re the Free Expo and eLaboratory membership  scheduled September 4-27  2012. You are invited to attend and participate.

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Navigating intelligence monitors and discloses the wellbeing or general condition of the city.

Many city information officers are now developing versions of vital signs monitor for monitoring and reporting the health of the city. From an eco-regional perspective the indicators should track what Jared Diamond noted every society must pay attention to for long-term survival:

  • Climate change
  • Environmental health of the eco-region
  • The city’s responses to environmental problems
  • Positive economic relationships with other cities and/or eco-regions
  • Incongruent neighbouring cities and/or eco-regions

Vital Signs Monitors become Integrally (IVSM) framed when they serve as community indices to measure the quality of overall health and wellbeing.  This becomes owned by the whole community when community partners (like the education institutions, health care systems, justice system, economy, recreation facilities, city hall)  contribute core data so that a composite picture of the whole community emerges from the integral map.

As a result, each community partner has a stake in the success of the IVSM and together the community of partners gains insights how their interconnections contribute to the wellbeing of the whole city.


This blog is a prologue to the Integral City webinar conference  City 2.0 Co-Creating the Future of the Human Hive . We are inventing a new operating system for the city.  Click to get more details re the Free Expo and eLaboratory membership  scheduled September 4-27  2012. You are invited to attend and participate.

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Are economics and technological factors sufficient to incubate innovation and sustainability? At least they are a start to consider the importance of cities to organizational success.

That was a recent focus of Greenbiz forum where the growing recognition that the wellbeing of cities is an underlying condition for the success of organizations. Drawing from a recent report on the SustainAbility that identifies the States of Cities the discussion explored cities through the lenses of:

  • Personal Values
  • Decisive
  • Connected
  • Collaborative/Competitive
  • Visceral
  • Adaptive
  • Experimental

What is really encouraging about this identification of city qualities is that they appear to align with the four capacities of an Integral City:

UL: Psychological Capacity

  • Personal Values
  • Decisive

LL: Relationship Capacity

  • Collaborative

UR: Embodied Capacity

  • Visceral
  • Adaptive

LR: Systems Capacity

  • Competitive
  • Experimental

Furthermore this approach to SustainAbility appears to bring to the table the voices of stakeholders from the four quadrants of both the city and organizations. This is promising news for the future of Integral City Sustainability Planning. Perhaps the States of Cities will become the leading indicators of the wellbeing of City States?

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Integral City proposes that all cities have a purpose that serves Earth’s sustainability and wellbeing. Glimmers that the value of purpose are breaking through into the world of organizational and business scorecards are showing up in the news and financial presss.

The Toronto Board of Trade just released a report showing how 7 major U.S. cities compare to 5 Canadian cities in 9 industrial sectors. We must recognize this opportunity to measure prosperity as the first step along the way to actually measuring wellbeing in cities.

The 9 clusters which effectively measure the success of business hubs in each city included:

  • Auto & Parts
  • Finance
  • Food & Beverage
  • Energy
  • Transportation
  • ICT
  • Bio-Medical
  • Aerospace
  • Entertainment

It is not surprising to notice that each cluster is still very hard asset oriented, with little nod to the Creativity or Innovation that underlies the capacity for each and all of these clusters to be successful. While it may be interesting to note that Calgary’s success could be attributed to the nexus of the Finance and Energy sectors in the city, it is only a first step to acknowledging that the expertise, relationships, consciousness and culture in the city enable those sectors to perform at world class levels.

However, the practise of Prosperity Scorecarding is a shift in the right direction for seeing cities as purposeful contributors to the prosperity and wellbeing of the planet. Can we anticipate that such a beginning will open up to a whole Integral Vital Signs monitor in the not too distant future?

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I have posted to the website the Research Report on Mapping Abbotsford’s Values and Developing an Integral Vital Signs Monitor. This 2010 research updates the reserach I completed in 2003.  You can read the full study at http://integralcity.com/discovery-zone/research.html 

This study contributed Knowledge and Development Exchange (KDE) for a Welcoming and Inclusive Communities and Work Places project, named “Food for Thought” located in Abbotsford BC. 

The objectives of this study were:

  1. Values mapping to identify the location of differences: cultural sources of misunderstandings, conflicts and differing expectations. This contributed directly to effective decision making in the “Food for Thought” Demonstration Project (DP). 
  2. Mapping values of newcomers and immigrants to Abbotsford, identifying postal code locations, languages (and thereby culture and ethnic backgrounds) and age (with a special focus on youth), to help locate the geographic clustering or distribution of newcomers and immigrants.  This revealed the interconnections and disconnections of people.
  3. Creating a framework for a capacity and asset map of Abbotsford that embraces Place Caring and Place Making capacities.
  4. Developing a framework for a vital signs of wellbeing monitor for Abbotsford based on the values and asset maps, which can contribute to the strategic planning process of the City, the Fraser Health Authority, the School District, UFV, Civil Society and private firms.

Quantitative and qualitative data were collected from a random population sample of 479 residents including youth, and residents whose first language was Punjabi, Korean and Mandarin. Analysis showed that Abbotsford adults prefer collective-based values of family, order and caring; while youth and Punjabi and Korean language groups have stronger individual-based values, particularly related to personal expression. Overall the data showed that Abbotsford was experiencing a deficit of values related to results, planning and strategy. Most respondents from all the data samples agreed that what was not working well in Abbotsford related to unhealthy personal expression, showing up as drugs, gangs and violence.

Recommendations proposed that :

  1. Abbotsford grow its capacities for success, results and planning at all ages. The Chamber of Commerce is a key stakeholder in enabling this to happen.
  2. The agriculture sector promote the whole trajectory of jobs from the farm gate to the food plate to young people in an annual agriculture career fair.
  3. Policy makers across the city incorporate  the results of this research into values-based strategies in their programs and services.
  4. Key city stakeholders collaborate to activate the prototype of the Integral Vital Signs Monitor (IVSM) to track effective changes to Abbotsford’s wellbeing. 
  5. Key city stakeholders collaborate to create a Community of Practice to administer the Integral Vital Signs Monitor (IVSM) and meshwork community organizations so that their services are aligned.
  6. Other recommendations included: approaching Abbotsford wellbeing with a whole systems, all quadrant, all levels, cross cultural, all faiths meshwork.

 Details of the research on the Integral City Meshworks Inc. website www.integralcity.com and Food for Thought website www.hungryforfutures.ca . Presentations of key Research Findings to interested parties can be scheduled with charter partner Integral City Meshworks Inc. at kde@integralcity.com .

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