Boundary change info in MLS

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colbyj-p40
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Boundary change info in MLS

Postby colbyj-p40 » Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:44 am

Hello,

Stake clerk here, Hoping for a quick tutorial on how to use the boundary change proposal report in MLS... it appears when I open it up it has no data other than units in our stake... I assume once I start inputted data it will do something? Appreciate any assistance as we hope to discuss this during our next Stake Presidency meeting.
thanks

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Wed Aug 12, 2009 10:05 am

colbyj wrote:Stake clerk here, Hoping for a quick tutorial on how to use the boundary change proposal report in MLS... it appears when I open it up it has no data other than units in our stake... I assume once I start inputted data it will do something? Appreciate any assistance as we hope to discuss this during our next Stake Presidency meeting.


I would highly recommend that you review the wiki article Boundary Realignment and take the online training lesson Using MLS to Create Boundary Realignment Proposals. These resources will give you the quick tutorial you seek.

But to answer your specific question, you are seeing only your current units because that is the default proposal -- it makes a good starting point. But once you start creating proposals and assigning geo codes to those proposals (assuming geo codes are assigned to households), you will start to see numbers appear that you can analyze as the stake presidency considers the relative merits of the various proposals.

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Postby RossEvans » Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:32 am

After you follow Alan_Brown's good advice on viewing the tutorial materials, you might want to read the discussion in this thread. Best to absorb the basic training first.

colbyj-p40
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Postby colbyj-p40 » Thu Aug 13, 2009 6:20 am

Thank you both very much!

colbyj-p40
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Postby colbyj-p40 » Thu Aug 13, 2009 6:41 am

The clerk who I replaced used Mappoint (free trial version) and MLS data, drawing in the stake boundaries, to show where members lived, etc... my President mentioned this the other night and since then i've been trying to figure out how to do it. the clerk who I replaced gave me a few tips, but I'm just not getting it. He mentioned exporting/outloading data from MLS that is readable by excel, and then using mappoint to map the data.
so my questions are, which directory or report in MLS would be the source for this data, and how do I export it in excel-type form?
I know there is an export option in the custom report page, but it only exports as a .mls file...
I saw from previous postings reference to GIS data? what is GIS?
Appreciate any help. thanks

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Postby RossEvans » Thu Aug 13, 2009 8:21 am

colbyj wrote:The clerk who I replaced used Mappoint (free trial version) and MLS data, drawing in the stake boundaries, to show where members lived, etc... my President mentioned this the other night and since then i've been trying to figure out how to do it. the clerk who I replaced gave me a few tips, but I'm just not getting it. He mentioned exporting/outloading data from MLS that is readable by excel, and then using mappoint to map the data.


I don't have MapPoint, a Microsoft desktop mapping product. The paid version has a street price in the low 3-figure range. It is not a full GIS (Geographic Information System) application. It does have a reputable geocoding engine buiilt-in, so it can import a file of addresses and plot them on a map. I believe it also can print a decent map. I don't know if it has the capability for the user to draw or import boundaries. (BTW, I am using "geocoding" in its common usage, meaning the conversion of address data to latitude/longitude points. That is not what MLS calls "Geo Codes," which are just abritrary codes that are supposed to refer to user-defined areas.)

colbyj wrote:so my questions are, which directory or report in MLS would be the source for this data, and how do I export it in excel-type form?
I know there is an export option in the custom report page, but it only exports as a .mls file...


No doubt your predecessor used the Membership.csv export file, which should be accessible from the File -> Exports menu in MLS.

colbyj wrote:I saw from previous postings reference to GIS data? what is GIS?


GIS software is basically a marriage of a database management system with geographic objects and mapping. Historically it has been expensive, and inherently has a significant learning curve. I use a moderately priced commercial package called Manifold. (BTW, it can work in conjunction with MapPoint, integrating MapPoint's geocoding into Manifold's GIS functions. But one would have to purchase both.) There are some free alternatives. I wrote a summary of the GIS functions I think are relevant here.

Once you solve the geocoding problem, it is not difficult to plot members on map viewers in a variety of media and eyeball the results. But to do a geographic query -- selecting which area a point is in, or selecting all the points within an area plus their demographic attributes, etc. -- you need some minimal GIS functionality.

If you search this forum for terms "geocoding" or "mapping" (GIS is too short) you will find lots of discussion. There also are some community-created mapping tools. One of the most interesting is a tool created by HPaulsen , which was designed to help users design MLS "Geo Code" areas on-screen and map the members to them from the MLS Membership.csv export.

HPaulsen's application incorporates some GIS functionality: Once all the "Geo Code" areas are drawn and named, it will compare each member's code to the codes exported from MLS, and identify missing or corrected codes for the user to rekey into MLS. One thing the application does not do is allow the user to import areas already defined in external sources, such as Census maps, to assist in defining "Geo Code" areas in the first place. A GIS package would do that. Unit boundaries in our stake seem to correlate closely with Census tracts, for example. Other boundaries that might be significant are those of school districts. (A fundamental task in boundary analysis is defining geographic areas as jigsaw pieces that make sense on the ground, so it helps to leverage the work of professional geographers from Census, local governments, etc.)

Also, be aware that church developers have been working for more than a year on some official tool for geocoding and member-mapping, but no release date has been announced. I have not seen any hints that the release will include any new tools specifically designed for boundary analysis.

One thing you haven't explained is whether your predecessor defined and maintained stake "Geo Codes" at all. Do they exist in any form?

colbyj-p40
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Postby colbyj-p40 » Tue Aug 18, 2009 10:02 am

wow, thanks for the detailed response. I'm not sure about if my predecessor maintained Geo Codes. Will check with him. But thanks for the tips! Much food for thought, and I admit, I'm going to have to read through your response a few times before I fully understand. ;-) but helpful nonetheless! thank you

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jltware
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Postby jltware » Sun Aug 23, 2009 3:04 am

Would any of these programs work in countries other than the United States. I am working on a similar project in Australia, and would love something that simplified the process of assigning geo codes and drawing up maps. Our current approach involved looking up each address in the stake in google maps to assign a geo code, and screen capturing maps and photoshopping them together then drawing in boundaries. If these programs have maps for Australia or can easily be adapted to work in a different area, I would love to give them a go.

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Postby RossEvans » Sun Aug 23, 2009 8:20 am

jltware wrote:Would any of these programs work in countries other than the United States. I am working on a similar project in Australia, and would love something that simplified the process of assigning geo codes and drawing up maps. Our current approach involved looking up each address in the stake in google maps to assign a geo code, and screen capturing maps and photoshopping them together then drawing in boundaries. If these programs have maps for Australia or can easily be adapted to work in a different area, I would love to give them a go.


I'm pretty sure that HPaulsen's program (see link above) would work. It uses the Google Maps API for its geocoding and map display.

As for GIS software in general, the software itself should work anywhere. The other component required is base map data. The availability of free, public-domain data varies. I don't know what is readily available in Australia.

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Postby hpaulsen » Mon Aug 24, 2009 5:37 am

Yeah, just give me a week or so to bring back boundary drawing capabilities....


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