We believe that health and well-being are rooted in supportive connections.
Visible Network Labs (VNL) is a social enterprise whose mission is to facilitate a supportive network of people, organizations and communities who believe in the value of working together. We provide training, opportunities for collaborative innovation, and technology-based tools that help people leverage network science to strengthen supportive connections and improve the outcomes of their work.
Our Story: VNL was launched in 2018. After spending three years as a policy scientist at the RAND Corporation, CEO and Founder Danielle Varda, PhD, spent the last 11 years at the University of Colorado Denver as a tenured professor in the School of Public Affairs, researching the impacts of social networks on health and well-being outcomes. She built a team and founded the Center on Network Science. The team built and scaled an organizational network analysis survey tool called PARTNER, that has been used by over 2,500 customers across 40 countries. After winning full ownership of all technology and related IP, Dr. Varda explored options for scaling PARTNER, and driven by a mission to build the capacity of people to engage in collaborative innovation to improve health and well-being outcomes, launched as a social enterprise.
Momentum from the PARTNER tool and insights generated through research and customer interviews led to the generation of new features of PARTNER, including data dashboards, new data collection tools such as the Person Centered Network App, and a Learning Lab to build capacity for translating the data to practice. After getting accepted into the Innovators Society in 2016 and Boomtown Accelerators in 2018, Visible Network Labs was launched!
Why: We are on a mission to build the largest, most complete technology platform and services to build capacity to make visible the ways in which people are connected to other people, organizations are connected to each other, and how people are connected to those organizations and resources – and make that available for social good. We make that available in a public facing Social Connectedness platform that is available for anyone to access, search through, and support their own personal and organizational efforts to support the well-being and health of our communities and the people in them. We call that platform PARTNER. We are not starting from scratch. Over 15 years, we have offered tools for people to use to collect data to fill up that database. Unless they opted out, it has all come together into one big database of people, resources, and the connectivity among them.
We know that is ambitious but are committed. Why? Because we know that if we can provide this visibility on how people and things are connected, and provide people the tools to keep that information dynamic and updated, we can leverage that information to strengthen social connectedness in world where we could all benefit. No one is immune from feeling lonely, sometimes disconnected, and lost at knowing how to get the help we need. If we can make the invisible network of connections of people and things visible, imagine what we could do together? If we all agreed to put that information into one place, in a commons, and we could all support access to it, leveraging the diverse resources we can bring to bear, we can use that information to make things better for people.
Social connectedness is determinant of health, well-being, education, mental health outcomes, and self-resiliency outcomes. To strengthen social connectedness in society, we all need to ask ourselves, “What is my call to action?” At VNL, we believe we all can contribute to this work, and we believe that we have found our call to action. We are smart in Network Science and organizing complex datasets, but we also have created innovative ways for people to collect that kind of data, and most importantly we are not bad at helping people translate complex data into information they can really use. Our goal is to build capacity, community-wide, at using these kinds of data to build stronger social connectedness among people, organizations, and things. We’re not perfect at these things, but we are obsessed with getting better at it.