Ward Maps

Discussions about the Maps Tool on lds.org.
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WelchTC
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Postby WelchTC » Sun May 06, 2007 4:23 am

phxdwl wrote:is it ok to use the data, as long as the data is geocoded with localy loaded datasets, and localy loladt loaded gis tools.

Yes, that should be fine.

Tom

bkh8-p40
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Postby bkh8-p40 » Thu May 10, 2007 4:35 am

Has anyone been able to get this program to work on Windows Vista? I have tried to comment out the spots that Kevin says to in non xp computers, but i still get error reports. I have very little programming experience so any help would be great. Thanks

kgcrowther-p40
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Geocoding is Complex for Rural Wards

Postby kgcrowther-p40 » Fri May 18, 2007 6:12 pm

This has been a great discussion on a topic that I personally feel could greatly benefit church members and leadership. It was so interesting I think that I read every comment in the thread. Thank you Kevin for initiating this thread. Over a decade ago, Worrall said that 80% of a data used in operational decisions was geographic or spatially referenced (Worral, L. 1991. Spatial analysis and spatial policy using geographic information systems. London: Belhaven Press). I feel this is greatly consistent with decision making across our church.

I live in a ward in the rural part of VA that is almost the size of the state of Rhode Island, and have felt that mapping would provide great value to organize ward missionary work through helping the missionaries with rides, referrals, and member visits. I am fortunate to have access to ESRI ArcGIS and sophisticated geocoding packages provided by ESRI and other geography giants through my appointment at the University of Virginia. (I believe ESRI ArcGIS can provide web services across a variety of enterprise architectures, although I imagine that the software is expensive .) However, I was surprised by the low rate success in my geocoding effort. I even tried some other web mapping service (similar to Kevin), such as Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google with even less success. The problem was that many of the addresses in the ward roster are ... "Box 1 Rural Route 3" or "555 Deer Farm Road"... Rural routes and farm roads do not exist in large-scale street files that are maintained for web mapping. (however, I must note that Google Earth was able to find quite a few - and must use a different map set or geocoding algorithm than their online mapping service.)

In the end I used an open source GIS called MapWindow GIS, created by Idaho National Labs, because I was able to obtain an open source script that runs on mapwindow to convert the point file in the ESRI shapefile format to a .KML -- a markup language used by Google Earth. I was able to mark on the map the locations of members to obtain latitude and longitude coordinates. There you can also create polygon files to demark the boundaries of the ward and store them in an xml format. These polygon files can be shared with specific members for editing, but there are problems maintaining versions.

However, I was able to do some interesting things for our ward missionaries. For example, I overlayed the membership map on top of a population density raster and calculated population - to - membership density ratios. This highlights the areas that are high in population, but low in membership for potential tracking. Other maps can be used when seeking certain talent for the ward (which is needed in rural wards), or to see if we are not properly taking care of new members that are located in far reaching locations. Such information with faith and the Spirit can powerfully inform decisions.

Geography is an important tool in making these decisions. I would recommend that the church investigate both commercial and open source options, while investigating what features to implement and how to do it to best meet the objectives of the church. However, I would recommend that if possible and feasible that the church team host geocoding web services internally - and NOT rely on the APIs or street maps of any particular existing web service.

daryl1
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This is good work and a step in the right direction

Postby daryl1 » Fri May 18, 2007 8:02 pm

Three cheers to Idaho National Labs for creating Mapwindows GIS that is a open sourced script. Three cheers also goes to Kgcrowther for posting this information on this wounderful tech forum. Let not reinvent the wheel lets profect and improve it.

I have also had good success with military and governmental agencies. They are not interested in just lining their pockets. They are after things that work and are reliable. I have also noticed that products from these agencies are easy to use and not cumbersome meaning the average joe can operate it. By the way I am not endorsing or promoting any products just making an observation from my past expirences.

I agree with Kgcrowther in that web services like yahoo, microsoft, google, and yes even map quest are not accurate. Maybe they are good for urban mapping
but those are usually five or more years out of date. Even the USGS (US Geological Survey) maps are 5 years old or more. This makes new developments not visible until new satalite pictures are taken. Plus these providers usually focus on large population centers not on the rural areas.

This is exciting now the members living in rural america and in rural countries can be mapped with ease.

Thank you for sharing an open sourced GIS program. I would hope and do not think this would violate the rules of sharing informaion because this is open source script.

Thank you.

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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Fri May 18, 2007 9:44 pm

Last edited by Mr. Techno : Today at 09:04 PM. Reason: Spelling error. A spell checker would be a good tool to add to this site.

There is spell check capability on these forums. In fact it is in the upper right corner when you are drafting your post. However, it requires a free download called ieSpell, which is an IE plugin. The nice thing is that you can use the spell checker on more than just this site, but it integrates nicely with these forums.

rmrichesjr
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For USA geo info, how about the USPS?

Postby rmrichesjr » Sat May 19, 2007 3:32 pm

Jumping into the middle of this thread... (Yes, I know that's dangerous.)

Just a wild idea, but given the accuracy problems mentioned in relation to commercial mapping sites, I wonder whether the USPS might have something available that could be helpful. They have to have much lower latency than five years in terms of handling addresses in new housing developments and such, and they have to be reasonably accurate. There's got to be something there, because the regular mapping web sites return my ZIP+4 extension when I enter my home address.

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WelchTC
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Postby WelchTC » Mon May 21, 2007 6:51 am

kgcrowther wrote:However, I was able to do some interesting things for our ward missionaries. For example, I overlayed the membership map on top of a population density raster and calculated population - to - membership density ratios. This highlights the areas that are high in population, but low in membership for potential tracking. Other maps can be used when seeking certain talent for the ward (which is needed in rural wards), or to see if we are not properly taking care of new members that are located in far reaching locations. Such information with faith and the Spirit can powerfully inform decisions.


The [thread=241]ward mission program[/thread] I've been working on could benefit from this type of technology. Currently I don't keep a lot of information about members in the program as the program tracks information about families and individuals that are being taught but as this program expands, I could see a technology like this being added to help plan splits and dinner appointments for missionaries. It could even help the missionaries decide the most efficient way to use the miles on their cars by allowing the ward mission leader to help them plan a route that they will work during the week.

Tom

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Jesse Smith-p40
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Postby Jesse Smith-p40 » Sun May 27, 2007 9:55 pm

Maps made for Home Teaching, and I'm sure even Visiting Teaching would help big time. Maps would be great to have when deciding companion ships and who they will visit. For example, having a companion that lives with in a mile of you and having the families you visit close by, would probably get more families visited than if they had families that lived 10 miles away, especially if they got inactives to visit, and pay a high price for gas.

Using Google Maps, for the Elders Quorum, I made a Home Teachers map, and then an Assigned, and Not Assigned map for each town. But not having any program to help, and being on a Macintosh, I had to use Google maps, and make a screen shot of the maps, and then put the initials in one person at a time.

Image
.

jwtaber
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Postby jwtaber » Sat Jun 09, 2007 7:13 pm

kgcrowther wrote:I live in a ward in the rural part of VA that is almost the size of the state of Rhode Island, and have felt that mapping would provide great value to organize ward missionary work through helping the missionaries with rides, referrals, and member visits. I am fortunate to have access to ESRI ArcGIS and sophisticated geocoding packages provided by ESRI and other geography giants through my appointment at the University of Virginia. (I believe ESRI ArcGIS can provide web services across a variety of enterprise architectures, although I imagine that the software is expensive .) However, I was surprised by the low rate success in my geocoding effort. I even tried some other web mapping service (similar to Kevin), such as Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google with even less success. The problem was that many of the addresses in the ward roster are ... "Box 1 Rural Route 3" or "555 Deer Farm Road"... Rural routes and farm roads do not exist in large-scale street files that are maintained for web mapping. (however, I must note that Google Earth was able to find quite a few - and must use a different map set or geocoding algorithm than their online mapping service.)


Some parts of my stake have recently phased out rural route and box, giving each house a new address. Sometimes a county government has also gone over an already-addressed road, giving it new house numbers, or even giving new names to shared driveways. The ward clerks are doing much better with keeping addresses current on the records than when I was called as an assistant stake clerk a little over five years ago. But I have yet to find any centerline source data that keeps up with the counties' changes. (I have ArcView 3.2a at home and ArcGIS 9.2 at work.)

Part of the problem there is that ESRI no longer puts the latest Census TIGER maps (in shapefile form) on its site. They do bundle (starting with 9.2) map data from TeleAtlas with ArcGIS. So for now I'm using that to match most of the stake (slightly larger than Connecticut, covering almost all of Delaware, half the landmass of Maryland, and one school district in Pennsylvania.) I match three units a week that way, and then once in a while try to manually match addresses that fell through the cracks, against YahooMaps (which I've found is most reliable of the online services.)

[snip]

However, I was able to do some interesting things for our ward missionaries. For example, I overlayed the membership map on top of a population density raster and calculated population - to - membership density ratios. This highlights the areas that are high in population, but low in membership for potential tracking. Other maps can be used when seeking certain talent for the ward (which is needed in rural wards), or to see if we are not properly taking care of new members that are located in far reaching locations. Such information with faith and the Spirit can powerfully inform decisions.


Indeed it can. I've been playing around with this as long as I've had the software in easy reach, first as a ward membership clerk (in three different wards) and now as an assistant stake clerk. Right now I'm basing stake geocodes on a three-character code representing county, school district, ward with the first two characters, and then where needed a third character for neighborhood (based mainly on census tracts and highways.) Right now all I'm doing with that is tracking where people are within each county or school district, and looking at a couple of boundary scenarios.

In the past, I've based things more on census tracts and tried to see where our strengths are compared to population. But in many cases ward boundaries don't respect census tracts, and in Delaware neither do school districts. (At least they do in Maryland and Pennsylvania.) So for me, that's on the shelf for right now, but there would be great potential for someone at a higher level to maintain that sort of data.

Geography is an important tool in making these decisions. I would recommend that the church investigate both commercial and open source options, while investigating what features to implement and how to do it to best meet the objectives of the church. However, I would recommend that if possible and feasible that the church team host geocoding web services internally - and NOT rely on the APIs or street maps of any particular existing web service.


Like I said before, I've had to play around with data sources to find something I can use easily. It's only because of what I have access to right now at work that things are going so efficiently that I can re-geocode all thirteen units in my stake each month. Personally, I feel that (and not just in the United States or other countries with similar levels of street data) the Church should generate latitude and longitude (or some equivalent) for each and every address. (Each ward and branch is supposed to have a physical address for each family as it is.)

Once automated, it wouldn't be that difficult to implement or maintain. (Granted, country-by-country that wouldn't happen uniformly.) If an address doesn't match, it would come up as an error in Membership Validation. (It could be the same with an address on the wrong side of a boundary line, though I've found when that comes up with what I'm doing, I may either the address miscoded, or the boundary wrong in my GIS.) And from there, missions, stakes and wards could periodically receive data that would be helpful to them.

kgcrowther-p40
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"geocoding" using Google Earth

Postby kgcrowther-p40 » Sun Jun 10, 2007 8:08 am

JTaber wrote:Part of the problem there is that ESRI no longer puts the latest Census TIGER maps (in shapefile form) on its site. They do bundle (starting with 9.2) map data from TeleAtlas with ArcGIS. So for now I'm using that to match most of the stake (slightly larger than Connecticut, covering almost all of Delaware, half the landmass of Maryland, and one school district in Pennsylvania.) I match three units a week that way, and then once in a while try to manually match addresses that fell through the cracks, against YahooMaps (which I've found is most reliable of the online services.)


I have found that home teachers, visiting teachers, and full time missionaries can locate addresses on a map. There is a information bar at the bottom of Google Earth that report lat./long. coordinates. I have found that I can ask members to find the address on a Google Earth and just tell me what the lat./long. reading is. This has been an effective way to "geocode" the addresses that none of the geocoding services (YahooMaps and ESRI included) are able to properly code.

I'm trying to think of a system that would be easy to distribute this sort of "geocoding" task through the visiting and home teachers...


JTaber wrote:In the past, I've based things more on census tracts and tried to see where our strengths are compared to population. But in many cases ward boundaries don't respect census tracts, and in Delaware neither do school districts. (At least they do in Maryland and Pennsylvania.) So for me, that's on the shelf for right now, but there would be great potential for someone at a higher level to maintain that sort of data.

I think population data is available on the census block level.

JTaber wrote:Like I said before, I've had to play around with data sources to find something I can use easily. It's only because of what I have access to right now at work that things are going so efficiently that I can re-geocode all thirteen units in my stake each month. Personally, I feel that (and not just in the United States or other countries with similar levels of street data) the Church should generate latitude and longitude (or some equivalent) for each and every address. (Each ward and branch is supposed to have a physical address for each family as it is.)


I think eventually lat./long. should just be entered into MLS as another field in the database. This would be relatively simple and avoid the need to geocode over and over again.

JTaber wrote: Once automated, it wouldn't be that difficult to implement or maintain.


I agree.


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