Ward Area Book

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topherreynoso
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Ward Area Book

Postby topherreynoso » Tue Jul 30, 2013 2:43 pm

Hello,

Each quorum or organization in our ward council is always focusing on several individuals throughout each week. However, ward council meetings would take hours if we reviewed each of these individuals or families. Instead, our ward council meetings revolve around a couple of families or individuals that a quorum or organization needs assistance with. We found that it is much easier to share all of this information we gather about members and investigators in what we call our "Ward Area Book." Any visits or attempts to contact families are recorded in the area book by any member of the ward council. This way you can look up a family or investigator and see a running story of interactions with the ward. Additionally, it is a way to return and report without having to spend all of the ward council meeting time reviewing reports.

I have made it easy for any ward to create their own area book for free for any ward council to utilize. Each member can establish their own username and password and request access to your ward's area book. Additionally, it allows clerks and bishoprics to sync the area book with information from MLS quite easily, showing what changes exist between the area book and MLS, allowing the ward council to update member info in the area book, giving clerks a notification to update it in MLS as well.

I realize that it is in the infant stages still, but I would love to hear feedback and get some input on how to make the ward area book more effective for ward councils. You can start an area book for your unit at https://www.ldsareabook.org

Best,

Topher Reynoso
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russellhltn
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Re: Ward Area Book

Postby russellhltn » Tue Jul 30, 2013 4:18 pm

topherreynoso wrote:Additionally, it allows clerks and bishoprics to sync the area book with information from MLS quite easily, showing what changes exist between the area book and MLS, allowing the ward council to update member info in the area book, giving clerks a notification to update it in MLS as well.


Nice idea, but note that we've been instructed in this forum not to upload data from MLS to third-party servers.
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Re: Ward Area Book

Postby topherreynoso » Tue Jul 30, 2013 4:42 pm

I'm happy to provide any code or the project itself, for inclusion into lds.org so it isn't a third-party any longer. :) You can manually add individuals as well. Have there been any updates to this policy since 2007 or requirements to comply with properly storing such data? It is a secure server and access is restricted.
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Re: Ward Area Book

Postby russellhltn » Tue Jul 30, 2013 5:23 pm

topherreynoso wrote:Have there been any updates to this policy since 2007 or requirements to comply with properly storing such data? It is a secure server and access is restricted.

No, there hasn't been. It's not a technical issue. It's one thing to set up a site and use it for your own unit. In that case, it's not really a 3rd party server since you control it. The underlying problem was collecting information for people outside of one's ward/stake.

As far as advancing the idea, I'm not sure what the best way would be. You could ask your stake president to talk about it with the Area Rep.
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Re: Ward Area Book

Postby topherreynoso » Tue Jul 30, 2013 5:42 pm

I already did and a seventy came and sat in on our ward council and enjoyed the ward area book. That's what made me think that others might find it useful and to make it available for anyone else to utilize.

A version for just one ward could be posted up on GitHub where anyone could fork it and create their own app hosted by a number of services (e.g. heroku), but that doesn't really solve the problem because you would still be utilizing a server owned by someone else. That would mean only individuals who own their own servers could use it for their own wards.

That link you provided also states that "If you have a web site that asks individuals to input data on their own, we currently do not have a policy about that." That makes it sound like it's not really a technical or a collecting information issue, it sounds like it's more an issue of the immediate source of the information. So perhaps the answer is to allow users to upload data but not directly from a csv from a church link.
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Re: Ward Area Book

Postby russellhltn » Tue Jul 30, 2013 6:02 pm

topherreynoso wrote:That link you provided also states that "If you have a web site that asks individuals to input data on their own, we currently do not have a policy about that."


Note that it's saying it's ok for a member to input information about themselves. An example of that might be to register to attend a conference. Each individual goes to the site to register to attend.

Members are free to divulge their information to anyone they want to. But for the church to hand over that information to someone else without the member's consent seems like a significant liability issue.
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Re: Ward Area Book

Postby topherreynoso » Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:09 pm

I understand what you're saying but I didn't read it like that and the context of the conversation doesn't really fit with what you're saying. The web site referred to was a way for leaders to map all members with a csv. It wouldn't make sense for individuals to enter their own addresses to map their own homes. I would really like to see the document referred to in the link. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate your feedback on this, but there has to be something that has a little more weight than a comment in a tech forum by a tech community manager from six and a half years ago.

"I am working with the top managers at the Church on developing a more comprehensive guidance document that I will share with you once it is complete. This document will help you know what you can or cannot do and what steps you must take when working with Church data."

A couple of things I take from that:
1. It's not that you can't work with Church data, there are just some steps that need to be taken when using it, which is good since there definitely can be a lot of sensitive data out there.

2. If this document is still not available after being considered back in 2007, doesn't that imply that the minutia of appropriate usage isn't a top priority right now? Be smart, don't use data inappropriately, store it securely (be it on your phone, computer, or elsewhere), govern yourselves (that was the hope when they let you so easily export that data in the first place).

I think if you review the usage of it that I am proposing, it doesn't contradict any of that. I could be wrong, and am happy to address any vulnerabilities or do as instructed, I just had a tool we found useful that I thought I'd make available to others.
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Re: Ward Area Book

Postby russellhltn » Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:19 pm

I believe the underlying principle is disclosing information outside your unit. What you do with the information you have access to is one thing. It's sending off to someone else that you really don't know and can't be sure that their intentions are fully on the up-and-up.

I'm not saying what you are doing for your ward is wrong - it's when other units start uploading to your system that's a problem. They shouldn't be doing that.
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Re: Ward Area Book

Postby topherreynoso » Wed Jul 31, 2013 1:45 am

This info is dated. Here's a link to the church's official current policy.

https://www.lds.org/pages/internet-usage-helps

Under "Personal Internet Use in Church Callings" it states:

Use personal information found in stake and ward directories or other Church records only for Church purposes. This information should be shared carefully and only with those who need to access it to fulfill Church callings and assignments.

Store or display others’ personal information on your website, blog, social network, or other publicly visible software application only after notifying each person and obtaining his or her express permission.


As you can see, since this is not a setting that would be "publicly visible" there's no need to notify each person for express permission and you can control access so only "those who need to access it to fulfill Church callings and assignments" can reach this info.

Cheers!
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Re: Ward Area Book

Postby russellhltn » Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:32 am

I disagree. And I must say that I'd be very upset if my church leaders shared my private information and it found it's way somewhere where it shouldn't.

Note that depending on the local laws, a data breach of Personally Identifiably Information (PII) might have to be made public. That's not going to go over well.
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