Household Geocode?

Discussions around using and interfacing with the Church MLS program.
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Household Geocode?

Postby mcglen » Thu Jun 14, 2007 2:41 pm

Like some others on this forum, my unit is trying to employ the assistance of GIS to map out the general ward membership for the ward emergency response plan.

However, we've found that plotting a household by address is not accurate in rural areas. In fact, a lot of the time the GIS doesn't even find the road. We have therefore started plotting the households by lat, long using Decimal Degree (DD) format. This provides a very accurate placement of household markers and it is compatible with several GISs.

We'd like to maintain the household DD entries in MLS but there's no logical place to put them; perhaps a "Household Geocode" field would be most appropriate. In the meantime, are there any other suggestions on how the DD entries can be stored without maintaining any membership data outside of MLS?


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Postby russellhltn » Thu Jun 14, 2007 2:53 pm

Well, there are custom fields, but they don't get reset on a move.

Here's what I'd do: Convert your decimal degrees into a higher based numbering system and stuff it into the geocode. Something that uses more characters to create a "shorter" number. You'd have to write a routine to encode/decode, but it's not like MLS can use that information directly anyway.

Another method to compacting is to lop off the number on the left hand side. It's not like you need to know what hemisphere of the globe they are located on. ;) Or lower the accuracy. You don't need to know within a 6' area where the house is. MMSS/MMSS may be close enough.

The reason I'd still try to use Geo codes is that I think they reset on a move. That greatly improves maintainability.

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Postby jwtaber » Thu Jun 14, 2007 7:28 pm

Sometimes they reset on a move, and sometimes they don't. They definitely don't reset when the unit changes and the address doesn't. In the meantime I try to re-code each unit in my stake each month.

There are systems out there for consolidating lat/long into something more compact. One such is the US National Grid System. You could take the code from that (or another system, like UTM) and truncate it. I do know what you're saying about rural areas - I have a similar problem sometimes with different street datasets putting roads in different places. (Sometimes they don't even have the same address ranges.) That's why I carved up the stake into a bunch of little sectors, and gave each one a code. That way I don't have to worry about where exactly everyone is.

I described my method in detail under - GEO Codes, Option 2. (Sorry if it's a bit long-winded.) The other options might better fit your needs, depending on your circumstances.

One thing is for sure, you are never going to point-match 100% of the addresses you have on your records at a given time. (At least not on first pass.) Even with cells, there are always a few dozen families I have to go back and manually geocode. Be patient with this, and allow for a margin of error. And of course allow for the Spirit to guide you.

John Taber
Assistant Stake Clerk
Wilmington Delaware Stake

Paul Greenlee-p40
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A little help for a novice?

Postby Paul Greenlee-p40 » Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:19 am

I was just requested (and accepted) assignemtn as the coordinator of the ward emergency plan. What is the GIS, as we are trying to plot gathering points by geography/community? Any other tools for a novice. By the way, I'm an insurance guy, not a technical guru as many of you seem to be (said with respect).

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Postby russellhltn » Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:41 am

Paul Greenlee wrote:What is the GIS

You can find a quick overview of GIS here. With the exception of this forum, I've only heard of GIS being used in a professional setting. So don't feel bad if you feel it's over your head. You may find one of the ward mapping programs more suitable for your needs.
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "" to the search criteria.

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Postby RossEvans » Wed Jun 17, 2009 11:51 am

Paul Greenlee.

I am not clear on what the requirements of your calling are. You may not need a full GIS system. Possibly you can meet your needs with free web sites such as or free map viewers such as Google Earth.

Also, be aware that the church is expected to release some member-mapping application, probably web-based, Real Soon Now. (Caveat: That release has been expected for some time already.) We don't know for sure what its capabilites will be, but it is expected to include some form of member-mapping and unit boundary display. Mapping the members inherently requires some form of geocoding, which is basically the translation of street addresses to latitude-longitude coordinates that GIS and mapping software can use.

As for GIS application software generally, you might want to look at this commentfrom a few months ago. You might also look at some of the applications developed by the LDSTech community. One recently developed application is described here. Anotheris here. Also, search this forum for "mapping" or "geocoding." ("GIS" is too short a word for searching here.)

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