Geocodes...or better yet Longitude/Latitude info in MLS?

Discussions around using and interfacing with the Church MLS program.
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ericb
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Geocodes...or better yet Longitude/Latitude info in MLS?

Postby ericb » Sun Jan 06, 2008 1:14 pm

In a recent ward council, the question was brought up about how to best group ward members by geography, and then how to keep this information updated as move-ins occur. The discussion related to emergency preparedness and having districts setup by geographic locations. The reason being that in a disaster, door-to-door contact (via walking) may prove to be the most reliable method to verify the status of members.

In MLS, there are Geocodes, that I understand are user-defined by ward. The main problem I perceive is the manual updating that must occur. As I was thinking about it, I wondered if it would make sense to instead have MLS track longitude and latitude information for each address. This information could easily be identified based on the address, and automatically provided by the church when records are transferred, or when an address is changed/updated. This would of course require the church to use a service to get this information, but it should be readily available. I was thinking we could then create custom reports using longitude and latitude information to identify members living within geographical locations.

I'll appreciate any additional thoughts, ideas, or pointing out of errors in my logic :).

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Sun Jan 06, 2008 1:24 pm

The biggest issue I see with simple lat/lon is it doesn't account for obstacles. You and I could be living close together, but have a river or a freeway that separates us making contact via sneaker net much more difficult then simple distance would suggest.

Or, you and I could be a stone's throw away, but I'd either have to climb though someone's back yard or go out of my culdesac, hit the main road, go around and then into your culdesac.

On the other hand, lat/lon with mapping is a great tool to manually creating the groups desired.

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ericb
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Postby ericb » Mon Jan 07, 2008 10:34 pm

RussellHltn wrote:The biggest issue I see with simple lat/lon is it doesn't account for obstacles. You and I could be living close together, but have a river or a freeway that separates us making contact via sneaker net much more difficult then simple distance would suggest.


There will always be the corner cases, so the question needs to be does this method address the majority of situations? From my experience with the wards I've lived in for the past 40+ yrs, the answer would be yes. I think until there is some sort of standard put to use (such as the use of latitude/longitude), clerks will continue to struggle with how to best assist organizations with the geographical management of ward members.

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Mikerowaved
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Postby Mikerowaved » Tue Jan 08, 2008 3:54 am

ericb wrote:I think until there is some sort of standard put to use (such as the use of latitude/longitude), clerks will continue to struggle with how to best assist organizations with the geographical management of ward members.

I agree. However, working with raw coords (as Russell alluded to) is not the answer either. Stuff those coords into something like Google Earth and in most cases you can easily SEE the physical obstacles between two seemingly close points.

As far as getting addresses from MLS into Lat/Lon coords, you might want to take a look at this thread....

http://tech.lds.org/forum/showthread.php?p=8281

As I see it, that's 1/2 the battle. The other half would be to have a place in MLS to SAVE those coords for tracking and future use.
So we can better help you, please edit your Profile to include your general location.

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Postby fraserredmond » Wed Jan 09, 2008 12:59 am

The other side to having the geocode service from Google/Yahoo, and the software Mikerowave linked to, is that the more that information is freely available from other providers, the less we need to store it ourselves. You could store the lat/long in MLS somewhere, but that means you have to look it up for each person that moves in. Or you can just look up everyones in a batch every now and then.

In our ward, I've created a customised 1-page wardlist that I paste into from a custom report. On the back I photocopy a map of our ward area, with gridlines on it. Back on the first page, one of the columns I include in the phonelist is the wardgeocode which is the family's gridreference based on that map.

The references are therefore somewhat arbitrary (A3, F2, G8, etc vs Lat/Long being global) but they only need to be useful for us. (In actual fact our ward covers several small towns, so we put something more like 'TA A3' or 'PR F2', and if your ward council can agree on defining some areas you could put prefixes in.)

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ericb
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Postby ericb » Wed Jan 09, 2008 9:25 am

redzarf wrote:The other side to having the geocode service from Google/Yahoo, and the software Mikerowave linked to, is that the more that information is freely available from other providers, the less we need to store it ourselves. You could store the lat/long in MLS somewhere, but that means you have to look it up for each person that moves in....


Actually, that's the part of my suggestion that was probably misunderstood...what I'd like to see is the church provide this information when a new move-in occurs, or when an address is flagged in MLS for the info. It is then stored with the address information. It could then be exported from MLS for other purposes, but my main goal was to have a way to create custom reports using the information...all without having to worry about continually updating Geocodes information with every member move.

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Postby thedqs » Wed Jan 09, 2008 10:16 pm

ericb wrote:Actually, that's the part of my suggestion that was probably misunderstood...what I'd like to see is the church provide this information when a new move-in occurs, or when an address is flagged in MLS for the info. It is then stored with the address information. It could then be exported from MLS for other purposes, but my main goal was to have a way to create custom reports using the information...all without having to worry about continually updating Geocodes information with every member move.


The only way I could see this accurately working is if when you updated the address it would query one of the mapping servers and get the geocode. Of course you will have problems with new developments because they probably do not have the updated information yet, however with all the move-ins, baptisms, etc that causes one's address to change I can see the church bogging causing a noticeable load on someone else's server. Of course the church could just run their own server but then they would need to devote resources to keeping it updated.
- David

fraserredmond
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Postby fraserredmond » Thu Jan 10, 2008 1:44 am

thedqs wrote:I can see the church bogging causing a noticeable load on someone else's server. Of course the church could just run their own server but then they would need to devote resources to keeping it updated.


Yeah, I can see this being one of those things that is a good idea, but realistically would only be used by a small percentage of wards, in which case its better for those wards to work out a solution themselves.

Theres plenty of projects that have helped (lds.org and mormon.org makeovers and additional content) and would help (LUWS outsite USA) more people than this might, and the church's resources are still limited. Unfortunately.


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