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Digital Area Book

Posted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:26 am
by dbcottam
I have just been called as the Ward Mission Leader, and my organization takes place digitally. I know there is some development in the Digital Area Book field, and I was wondering what is the progress. I am in Omaha, NE, and would like to use it in my work, and incorporate it into the ward mission.

What is going on with this and how could I help possibly to hasten the work? I am a Java Developer, also a Web Site Builder (HTML5/CSS3) and could donate a few hours a week to speeding this process up.

In the meantime, I will use excel, but I Would like something more permanent

Re: Digital Area Book

Posted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:10 am
by RossEvans
What are the major elements of functionality that you envision? Who are the stakeholders -- ward missionaries, full-time missionaries, Ward Council members, etc.? What would be the content? Would it be about members, investigators, or both?

In general, if you want to create a local, file-based application for a single user to manage, with periodic reports exported to such stakeholders, that is thinkable. A database structure that allows many-to-one records -- for example, recording multiple contact events per member or investigator -- that might be functionally superior to just using a spreadsheet.

But if you envision collaborative use online somewhere, with multiple users writing to the data store, I think your ambition will be frustrated.

I know of no church project to create such a collaborative tool, and I doubt very much that there will ever be one. And recent policy changes that prohibit "cloud-based services ... storing ... any membership-related data" pretty much rule out building a web-based tool yourself.

Re: Digital Area Book

Posted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:23 am
by dbcottam
This is what I envision:
I would like to have an accessible location (cloud-based...but as you said, is ruled out), where I, Bishop, Ward Council, Ward Missionaries, etc) could query a name. A report would be generated with the progress of that individual. (Lessons taught, comments, etc.) So we are all on the same page. I would update the database when I talk to the missionaries, or a comment could be added by the Bishop when he visits a family, etc. I imagine it to be collaborative.

I was imagining a table structure similar to this:
Investigator Table
Fellowshipper Table
Principle Table (taken from teaching record)
Commitment Table
Comment Table
Lookup Table

Each of the tables would have the investigator_id column to link up each row with an investigator. It would be a pretty robust database.

Re: Digital Area Book

Posted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:57 am
by RossEvans
I'm having a hard time conceiving of a multiuser, truly collaborative database that is not cloud-based.

Maybe, if your content were limited to investigators and not members, that could be construed as allowed by the policy? I am not really sure, but my opinion is not what counts Your stake president is in charge of understanding and interpreting the policy.

Theoretically, this could be built as a single-user application instead. If you are its owner, you could just be in charge of updating it hands-on. Others who have input could just email you with their content updates, which you would key or paste in. That is what the KISS principle dictates, as well. Such a single-user application theoretically could also be kept in a central location such as the clerk's office. But I doubt that all the other users would or could do the updating in such a database hands-on, and he clerk's computer already is a huge bottleneck in the workflow of most wards.

We have been trying to implement something similar and less complex. Except our task is to track the ward membership for the Ward Council and other select leaders, recording notes and other information that cannot be stored in MLS. SInce Google Drive is no longer available for this purpose, we have opted for a single-user point of control managed by clerks. This will make things less efficient, but the policy is what it is. One might call it un-hastening the work.

Re: Digital Area Book

Posted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:49 am
by johnshaw
It's not that something can't be cloud based, it's just that the CHURCH much provide the cloud if we are to use it.

I'd be wary of anything you do that has a 'comments' section. That's one of the reasons we haven't had a HT/VT reporting online solution, because once a private entity starts to collect data, notes etc.. on individuals, there are some scary things we can get into.

Not that a Mormon would ever OVER-share something in their or someone else's life :)

Re: Digital Area Book

Posted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 12:13 pm
by RossEvans
johnshaw wrote:It's not that something can't be cloud based, it's just that the CHURCH much provide the cloud if we are to use it.

I'd be wary of anything you do that has a 'comments' section. That's one of the reasons we haven't had a HT/VT reporting online solution, because once a private entity starts to collect data, notes etc.. on individuals, there are some scary things we can get into.

Which is why I do not expect that the church will ever provide such a tool. I assume this is deliberate.

But every quorum presidency, bishopric, PEC, or Ward Council I can remember in the digital age has felt the need to keep some ad hoc records locally somehow. The larger the unit and the greater the turnover, the more critical that is. The inherent, cutting-edge issue is read/write collaboration -- not what is technically feasible, but what allowed by current policy. I understand why the no-cloud policy was promulgated. Let's also understand that it does hamper leadership productivity.

Re: Digital Area Book

Posted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 1:13 pm
by johnshaw
This is actually pretty funny, if you search under my name in this forum you will see post after post about how something that EVERYONE does needs to have a centralized app or expanded functionality for it, every ward, every stake (hundreds and thousands of volunteer hours in Administrative functions) is duplicating effort all across the country and the world.

The church Should be providing these tools, it is NOT enough to say, Don't do this, and then not provide the 'do it this way'. Members are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Re: Digital Area Book

Posted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 7:02 am
by dpowell10
I see a number of questions but I have seen no answers... I am a MLS Senior missionary in NY NY Mission. I have just been called by the Stake President as a asst. ward clerk, to help with our 938 member ward. We have about 135 People for Sac. Mtg. So many here have different languages, some we call on don't even take notice of our missionary tags and will not speak to the missionaries in general. As senior MLS missionaries, we don't qualify or have access to Area Book. Our area is the whole ward in terms of new member lessons, member retention and activation. We have a very hard working Ward mission LDR and a great Bishop. None but the 10 full time young missionaries in our ward have access to Area Book. They have ipads and Area Books but with a ward of numbers and the large area in terms of geography we are at a loss as to find all the members, correlate the activity and present it to the Bishop and Ward Council in a way that we can solve the problems and bless the members the way we could with Area Book. At this point we have a google doc to try to facilitate what the Area Book could facilitate seamlessly.

We would love some Answers and Suggestions.

Re: Digital Area Book

Posted: Thu Jun 05, 2014 1:32 pm
by mevans
The missionaries in our mission now all have iPads and there's some kind of record-keeping app the church provides for them. I don't know if ward/stake mission leaders have any access to the system. Maybe I'll have to see if the missionaries can show me more of what it does.

Re: Digital Area Book

Posted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 1:00 pm
by anthonysheffield
Although Members or ward mission leaders do not have access to the Mobile area book app etc. available to missionaries now. They have made an electronic version of the missionaries progress record that is generated by this app available online for ward leadership to view. I am a Ward mission leader and just found this today. You can view the progress record through by doing the following. Login to then click on the sign in tools link at the top and click on Leader and Clerk Resources link in the drop down menu. After the leader and clerk resource page loads on the far right click on the Other drop down menu and click "progress record" this will load the progress record for your local ward. I also found the link on the Hastening the Work website after you are logged into your account as well. It includes seperate categories for investigators, returning members and Weekly Key Indicator Numbers, This data is updated instantly as the missionaries enter the data into there Ipad app and sync the app online. Hope this is helpful.