Fast offering routes in MLS

Discussions around using and interfacing with the Church MLS program.
mprusse
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Fast offering routes in MLS

Postby mprusse » Sun Jul 13, 2008 5:01 pm

Has any mention been given to having a section of MLS for keeping track of fast offering collection routes? It could include geographic routes, monthly assignments for follow-up, label printing for blue fast offering envelopes, printed lists to include with the group that would give addresses, etc.

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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Sun Jul 13, 2008 6:41 pm

macsense wrote:Has any mention been given to having a section of MLS for keeping track of fast offering collection routes? It could include geographic routes, monthly assignments for follow-up, label printing for blue fast offering envelopes, printed lists to include with the group that would give addresses, etc.

Seems to me that this would best go with the mapping solution that is coming down the pipeline; the one problem with my statement though is if this becomes part of LUWS. Then the module in LUWS would most likely just show where all the membership lives, and not be something where you could add or save "routes."

However, something like this in MLS could be doable if a module is being built into MLS to help in Ward or Stake realignments and splits. Of course, I don't know if that's really an option being considered or not.

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Postby aebrown » Sun Jul 13, 2008 7:10 pm

mkmurray wrote:However, something like this in MLS could be doable if a module is being built into MLS to help in Ward or Stake realignments and splits. Of course, I don't know if that's really an option being considered or not.


MLS already supports ward and stake boundary changes. It is available in Stake MLS under Membership, Boundary Realignment. It allows you to set up various scenarios based on Geo Codes, and to evaluate the number of members, priesthood holders, youth, etc. that would be in the proposed units.

There is also an online training lesson specifically for this topic called Using MLS to Create Boundary Realignment Proposals.

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Postby lajackson » Sun Jul 13, 2008 9:05 pm

Alan_Brown wrote:MLS already supports ward and stake boundary changes. It is available in Stake MLS under Membership, Boundary Realignment.


A ward would have to use Geo Codes and custom reports to arrange fast offering routes in MLS for now. I suppose that if a ward were given the boundary change module that the stake has, the ward could use it rather than custom reports.

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Postby RossEvans » Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:07 am

In our ward we are working on a tool for maintaining fast-offering routes, leveraging the geocoding and mapping applications we recently put into place. (For those apps, see http://tech.lds.org/forum/showpost.php?p=13642&postcount=67 )

This is a big ward geographically and a very big ward numerically. We already have a fulltime calling devoted to managing these routes, and the job is overwhelming without some automation. Except for a problem we have in prioritizing households to be visited, because we lack the Aaronic priesthood strength to visit them all, the routing is driven almost purely by geography.

After mulling the possibility of deriving the routes very dynamically, we are opting for dividing the ward into fixed districts. (Probably several sets of districts, actually, gerrymandered to accommodate various scenarios of the numer of priesthood routinely assigned.)

Our stake and ward do not populate the legacy "Geocode" fields in MLS. But our ward maintains real geocoding at the lat/lon level of almost the entire membership. Even so, it is useful in designing districts to divide the ward into small jiigsaw pieces that can be combined to form districts. In the 62 square miles of our ward, census tracts or block groups (the next-smaller subdivision) seem to provide the appropriate scalle. There are about 58 census tracts and 134 block groups within our boundaries. We would be aiming to design 10-15 districts out of these pieces. For that initial task I would use commercial GIS software (Manifold) that has such functionality built-in.

With the districts in place, the custom program -- probably a script rather than a full-blown application -- would assign families monthly to the districts based on their lat/lon coordinates, and export the districts for the coordinator in both a .csv file and KML files for Google Earth.

At least that is the plan.

When I was a clerk in another ward 10 years ago, we did something similar. The main difference today is that the available technology has exploded.

Yes, it would be nice if MLS did all this stuff.

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Postby RossEvans » Mon Jul 14, 2008 7:07 am

BTW, I am curious -- who is responsible for administering the fast offering routes in your wards? A clerk, or some other calling? If the latter, how is the sharing of sensitive information handled?

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Postby lajackson » Mon Jul 14, 2008 7:54 pm

boomerbubba wrote:BTW, I am curious -- who is responsible for administering the fast offering routes in your wards?


We have two deacons. The Young Men advisors recommended and the bishopric approved a hand picked a set of about five families for each of them and that became the route. [grin]

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Church policy re Google Maps' My Maps feature?

Postby RossEvans » Mon Jul 21, 2008 6:11 pm

In the course of developing our ward's geography-driven fast-offering district app, I have hit an issue of church policy. I am seeking opinions here to test my own before I kick this upstairs to the bishop. (I would rather present him a proposed solution than just a problem.)

The fast-offering coordinator would like the new automated process essentially to replicate what he produces now -- a printout with a locator map and itemized list, updated monthly, which he hands to the priesthood team serving each route. To do this, the coordinator now manually maintains selected names and addresses from the ward roster in the My Maps section of Google Maps. See http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&tab=wl

I well understand why he favors this method: It produces a very legible printout, more legible than I can produce using the Google Earth application. (Such printouts are not the forte of GE.) Technically, I am pretty confident I can build a file that can be uploaded to Google Maps/My Maps, because within certain limits that web-based service can import KMLfiles like I already produce for Google Earth.

The problem is, as I understand church policy, using My Maps this way is out of bounds because it involves storing church membership data on a third-party server. (Google Earth, a local application, keeps the user's own data on the desktop client.) I think even the current manual process of keying stuff into My Maps contravenes the rules.

As a practical matter, if the files are uploaded only for the time it takes to print the routes, and the privacy restrictions provided by Google are maximized, I think the chance that someone else out there would retrieve our map is remote. In creating these routes, the coordinator is building a custom web page on Google's site, hidden from the Internet not by his Google password but only by the obscurity of the page's URL, which is called "unlisted." But it is not impossible. And, of course, Google can capture the web page on the server side.

FYI, here is what Google says about this method:

Public and Unlisted Maps

You can choose to make your maps public or unlisted.

Public maps are maps that you want to publish and share with everyone. Public maps will be included in the search results on Google Maps and Earth. Public maps also appear in your user profile (if you have created one).

Unlisted maps are maps that you only want to share with a few select people. Unlisted maps will not be included in the search results, so they are accessible much like an unlisted phone number -- anyone who knows the specific URL of the map can view it, but there's no directory or search for finding unlisted maps.

You can change this setting at any time. However, please remember that all maps have a public URL. In general, we recommend that you don't create any maps that you prefer not to share with anyone.


So IMHO, we need to find a better solution, and I am pursuing workarounds and options.

What do folks think?

If it is coloring outside the lines to load names and addresses into Google's My Maps, what if we load addresses only?

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Postby lajackson » Mon Jul 21, 2008 8:13 pm

boomerbubba wrote:If it is coloring outside the lines to load names and addresses into Google's My Maps, what if we load addresses only?


I would be ok with loading the addresses.

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Postby russellhltn » Tue Jul 22, 2008 3:15 am

Since the policy as only been communicated in this forum, all I can do is point you to prior posts such as [color="blue"]this one[/color] and [color="blue"]this one[/color]. I thought I saw a discussion along the lines that if it was addresses only, then it was OK, but I'm not able to find that one. Maybe someone else remembers the details.


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