Ward Boundary Changes

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Ward Boundary Changes

Postby javert42 » Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:31 am

Certain changes in policies within my stake have occurred recently that will seriously affect the membership numbers of our wards. Our new stake presidency wants to reexamine our ward boundaries, and make changes that could possible affect the boundaries of all but one of our wards.

I would really appreciate any advice that you have to offer about organizing data to make it easier to decide what the appropriate boundaries should be for our wards. I need to be able to quickly visualize geographic data on active priesthood holders, full tithe payers, etc. I currently have access to MapPoint 2002, but I could easily get a newer version if people that that would help.

What do you think would help us in figuring out what the boundaries should be?

What do you think would help in actually making the changes, once they are approved?

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Postby russellhltn » Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:37 am

While I'm sure you'll get some good suggestions here, you might want to read Maps and boundaries. Particularly the threads that point out the advantages of using existing boundary lines of school districts, putting lines down back yards, not streets, etc.
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

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Postby johnshaw » Mon Jun 04, 2012 1:26 pm

You will also want to review the online training on Boundary Changes.. The tools provided for MLS at the stake level uses GeoCodes, but if you can be a bit patient and modify geocodes strategically it will give you several options to compare. That tool is the best analysis for changes affecting MP, RS, YM, YW, Pri, etc.... One thing that isn't there very well is full-tithe payers. My first experience we used the year-end tithing info to tracking that data, but I noticed that when we made changes, the full-tithe status % didn't change significantly from boundary option to boundary option, so for future changes we've used the percentages.

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Postby mlh78 » Mon Jun 04, 2012 4:39 pm

After assigning geocodes, we exported the list to Excel so that we could do real time tweaks while looking at the map and see summaries of each ward's demographics and each ward's member list.

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Postby kisaac » Mon Jun 04, 2012 7:26 pm

JohnShaw wrote:You will also want to review the online training on Boundary Changes..

Boundary realignment online training foundhere
and also addressed in the wiki article, Boundary realignment, here

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Postby RossEvans » Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:15 pm

Much depends on where you are starting from, what skills you can apply, and how much time you have.

If the stake already has implemented some form of Geo Code areas, even though this legacy method is extremely dependent on manual work, the most expedient course might be to build on that. This begs the question of how to design the Geo Code areas in the first place, on some maps somehow. MLS provides no tools for doing that; it is completely dumb geographically. Stake MLS will report demographic analysis based upon the manually entered Geo Code values. (If you entered "Geo Code" values based upon your research of hair and eye color, MLS would report that demographic analysis, too.)

Otherwise, you might be better off exporting the MLS membership data into external geographic software for analysis. Design your areas there, import boundary building blocks based on publicly available files for such areas such as census tracts and school districts, or some synthesis of both methods.

As of this writing, the systems provided by the church for boundary analysis are pretty crude compared to the state of the art in Geographic Information Systems, which integrate databases with electronic maps. Designing boundaries in GIS is a mature art. Governments and businesses have been doing such tasks with GIS for years. Salt Lake headquarters has GIS software. Local units do not, unless they acquire their own. This is a specialized field, however, and there is a learning curve involved in using GIS applications. That course, in turn depends on the inventory of experience within the stake clerk's orbit. Someone with database skills can surely learn to use GIS.

A middle ground hybrid method might be to use GIS such as free Quantum GIS or moderately priced Manifold -- or lower-end map-display applications such as Google Earth -- just to draw Geo Code areas. Then use them as a productivity tool to assist clerks in doing the Geo Code data entry into MLS for the demographic analysis. (It's basically a tradeoff of brains versus brawn. If your clerk can write a little SQL code within a GIS system to do the database analysis, he doesn't have to do all that manual data entry.)

If you do want to use any modern mapping tools, they typically are dependent on geocoding the latitude-longitude values for each member address, so there also is an issue of how to capture that data. The church has built a semi-automated tool for doing that within the maps application at lds.org, but it is ultimately dependent on a lot of manual work by ward clerks. That ambitious task is generally treated as optional unless mandated by stakes. If your units have already been doing that, then you have a valuable asset to use for boundary work; if not, it would take some time for ward clerks to ramp up. If your stake does not have this asset in place and you are under the gun to do the boundary analysis quickly, you might just get the address geocoding done commercially. There are many ways to get free geocoding online, but they usually lack completeness and accuracy.

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Postby wkadams » Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:12 pm

How did you export this information. I don't see anyway to export the geocode report in boundary realignment. I looked at customer reports but got an entry for every member instead of just households. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks

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Postby aebrown » Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:53 pm

wkadams wrote:How did you export this information. I don't see anyway to export the geocode report in boundary realignment. I looked at customer reports but got an entry for every member instead of just households. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks

There are a couple of options for exporting information:

  • Use the MLS Export feature (you must be an MLS administrator to do this). Then the membership.csv file will most likely have all the information you need. You can filter it in a variety of ways (by priesthood office, by household position, etc.)
  • Create a custom report that includes the geo code and whatever other information you find useful. If you want a household report, you can add a criterion that is Household Position -- is -- Head of Household.
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