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Web App for finding lost sheep

Posted: Mon Aug 01, 2011 5:20 pm
by jasondfrey
I live in Las Vegas which is basically the foreclosure capital of the world right now. Many inactive members will move in/out of the ward boundaries without us knowing. It makes our ward list nearly useless. I'm positive there are many inactive members that are living in ward boundaries unbeknownst to the leaders of that ward. As a result, they are likely to not receive the blessings of visits from home and visiting teachers, missionaries, etc.

We could use a web app where ward leaders can collaborate on finding these "lost sheep" in the ward. The purpose would be to confirm the address of inactive members living in the ward boundaries as well as finding out if a member no longer lives at their address in the records.

Ward leaders would log in to view a list of unconfirmed addresses. They would then select a few households to visit or mail a letter to. At that point the list would show that these names have been "checked out" by that leader. That way instead of both organizations trying to verify the addresses of the same households they can each verify the addresses for different households.

Once they have verified that the member still lives at the address on record it will remove that household from the "lost sheep" list. If the member does not live there then they make a note of it in the app. If the new address is known then they will add it in the app and then that household is removed from the "lost sheep" list and added to a "move out request" list which is then emailed to the ward clerk. If the new address is not known then the household will be checked back into the "lost sheep" list and it will be flagged as "address unknown" until either the new address is found or the Bishop decides to move the records out of the ward without knowing the new address.

I could easily make this as a 3rd party app. I assume however that it would be against Church policy since it would require storing names, phone numbers, and addresses as well as asking users for their lds account login. I completely understand the reason why it would be against church policy. So I'm wondering if it's possible to make it an official project.

I know this would be an incredibly useful tool for our ward. So I imagine it would be useful for many other wards as well. I have 9 years experience as a PHP/MySQL developer and am willing to donate my time to make an app for the Church. It doesn't look like the Church uses PHP extensively so I don't know how useful I could be. But if the Church has need for a PHP programmer (whether on a project like this or another) then please let me know.

Posted: Tue Aug 02, 2011 9:22 am
by johnsonth
I'm not sure what the process is for starting a community project (if that's what you want to do), but I forwarded this post to Alan Smoot, the community business manager.

Posted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 1:45 pm
by scgallafent
While the purpose of the application is clear, I'm sitting here wondering whether it would result in discussions not happening in ward council, which is where some of this work needs to happen. I can see it as a useful tool to assist a ward council in tracking data. I'm concerned that it would result in moving that work out of the ward council meeting and losing the benefit of discussion in that meeting.

Posted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 1:55 pm
by johnsonth
Here's the process for initiating new ideas for community projects. Basically, send an email to Include all the details of the project and try to make the best case you can. Alan Smoot (who receives the email at that address) will then take the idea to the appropriate Church department and see if they're interested in doing the project. If so, it will become an official community project.

Since we do receive ideas for new projects regularly, most likely Alan will take the ideas to department directors at set intervals, such as monthly or quarterly. If a project doesn't get adopted, it wouldn't mean that the Church is against it -- only that in a world of competing priorities, the church wants to devote resources to higher priority projects.

Does that clear up the process somewhat? I'm planning to write a wiki article that explains this process. I hope you will submit the idea for your app.