Why isn't MLS using the U.S. National Grid?

Discussions around using and interfacing with the Church MLS program.
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jeromer7
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Grids Work Quite Well For Some of Us

#11

Post by jeromer7 »

boomerbubba wrote:Flat, straight roads are more the exception than the rule in geography, not to mention complications like rivers, school district boundaries, Census boundaries, postal zones etc., that are siginificant for various purposes.
We use a grid system that follows primarily follows north-south and east-west roads, but also a two rivers and Interstate highway. Each "square" makes up a stake geocode.

Not all ward boundaries follow along geocode boundaries so a designation is made in the geocodes to account for different wards being in the same "square." In considering boundary realignments using MLS I can readily give the stake presidency the demographic numbers and even household names that will be impacted in any boundary shift.

I realize one size does not fit all, but this has worked well for me.
JLR
jwtaber
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#12

Post by jwtaber »

JLRose wrote:We use a grid system that follows primarily follows north-south and east-west roads, but also a two rivers and Interstate highway. Each "square" makes up a stake geocode.

Not all ward boundaries follow along geocode boundaries so a designation is made in the geocodes to account for different wards being in the same "square." In considering boundary realignments using MLS I can readily give the stake presidency the demographic numbers and even household names that will be impacted in any boundary shift.

I realize one size does not fit all, but this has worked well for me.
And that's the way it should be. I don't use roads that run in cardinal directions because I don't have any. Instead I use census blockgroups, tracts, and designated places as appropriate; school district boundaries; existing and proposed unit boundaries; some interstate highways.
SmithGW
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MLS using the U.S National Grid?

#13

Post by SmithGW »

JLRose said:
I've been attempting to work with the built-in GEO Codes fields in MLS and figuring out what to put in there. This can be a daunting task, and has resulted in a short crash course on different types of mapping and ideas that others have used to GEO Code their Ward or Stake.

I have come to the conclusion that there has been no standard adopted by the Church. Perhaps it's time we start to think of implementing a Church standard for this? I think that a likely candidate is the United States National Grid system.
Perhaps because we used MIS and FIS so long and they were created strictly for North America, we have gotten used to thinking Church record-keeping software can be tailored to one country. The question is: if we adopted the United States Grid system for units in the United States, what would we use in all the other countries? And what programming challenges would that present? MLS is currently being used in 18 languages, and was in fact implemented outside the United States first. I'm not trying to be difficult, just to point out that this is multinational software and changes have to take that into consideration.
RossEvans
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#14

Post by RossEvans »

smithgw wrote:JLRose said:

Perhaps because we used MIS and FIS so long and they were created strictly for North America, we have gotten used to thinking Church record-keeping software can be tailored to one country.

Even within the United States there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Leaving aside the inherent weaknesses of any rectangular grid system -- which does not respect rivers, freeways, school districts, etc. -- even non-grid geographical entities that make more sense on the ground cannot be adopted as a single "standard" method of choosing areas for everyone's boundary analysis.

For example, our stake seems to rely heavily on Census block groupareas for boundary purposes. The Census maps are handy because the government has done the work to define contiguous areas with populations that roughly scale with each other. So, for example, in our large urban/suburban ward in Central Texas, there are about 159 Census block groups or partial block groups. But in some parts of the Wasatch Front, where LDS density as a ratio to total households approaches 100 percent, one or two block groups might comprise a whole stake!

Even worse inequalities would obtain with a pure national grid system, which does not even take total population density into account, let alone LDS families per square mile. Those inequalities could be amerliorated, but not eliminated, by adopting smaller grid subdivisions in dense areas.
znauga
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#15

Post by znauga »

avskip wrote:I've been attempting to work with the built-in GEO Codes fields in MLS and figuring out what to put in there. This can be a daunting task, and has resulted in a short crash course on different types of mapping and ideas that others have used to GEO Code their Ward or Stake.

I have come to the conclusion that there has been no standard adopted by the Church. Perhaps it's time we start to think of implementing a Church standard for this? I think that a likely candidate is the United States National Grid system.

Right now, each Ward has it's own GEO Coding idea, then each Stake has it's own.
znauga
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GEO Codes

#16

Post by znauga »

avskip wrote:I've been attempting to work with the built-in GEO Codes fields in MLS and figuring out what to put in there. This can be a daunting task, and has resulted in a short crash course on different types of mapping and ideas that others have used to GEO Code their Ward or Stake.

I have come to the conclusion that there has been no standard adopted by the Church. Perhaps it's time we start to think of implementing a Church standard for this? I think that a likely candidate is the United States National Grid system.

Right now, each Ward has it's own GEO Coding idea, then each Stake has it's own.

While the stake and the wards may have separate GEO codes I believe that MLS makes the ward code the stake code by default.

znauga
lajackson
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#17

Post by lajackson »

znauga wrote:While the stake and the wards may have separate GEO codes I believe that MLS makes the ward code the stake code by default.
If the stake does not have a stake GEO code, either the ward code or the stake code that the ward specifies will flow to the stake.

If the stake has a stake GEO code, the ward cannot change it.

A stake code does not flow back to the ward.
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McDanielCA
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#18

Post by McDanielCA »

A user contacted me with the following information that you might find useful. This isn't an official source sponsored by the Church:

We (Delta State University in association with the USGeological Survey)have solutions, at no charge, for many of the issues discussed and would love to work with y'all to help disseminate them further.

USNG (NAD 83): 15SYT09823640

O: 662-846-4520
C: 662-402-3772
F: 662-846-4099

tbrooks@deltastate.edu
http://gis.deltastate.edu
http://mississippi.deltastate.edu

And occasionally

GIS, Operations
MS Emergency Management Agency
1 MEMA Dr.
Pearl, MS 39288

601.933.6362

http://www.msema.org
michaeldnash
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Re: Why isn't MLS using the U.S. National Grid?

#19

Post by michaeldnash »

Skip Taylor is right, folks. Simplicity is the key, and while you may think at first glance a grid system won't work outside of Utah, if the grid is small enough it will definitely work. I'm currently doing this for my stake and have successfully translated all addresses from lat/lon to USNG (also called MGRS). A USNG coordinate for a location combines easting and northing coordinates in one string. The last ten digits get you down to 1 meter of precision, and can be truncated easily to eight which will get you to 10 meters precision. Coincidentally, the geocode fields fit eight characters.

If the address of every household in the stake were geocoded consistently in the ward or stake field, the time spent by priesthood leaders studying potential boundary changes is reduced significantly, and the clerk's time is reduced even more. The USNG coordinate system makes this possible, not only in the US but worldwide. Think of a mission president barely assigned to an area he's totally unfamiliar with, ward and stake geography he knows little about able to rearrange zones, and implement strategic planning rather than trying to manage by trial and error. This is made possible with USNG/MGRS.

Incidentally, just about any GPS device can be switched to MGRS coordinates instead of Lat/Lon. Conversion of addresses is possible with simple mapping tools and can be done without revealing sensitive personal information online. But the GIS tools already employed by the church could be utilized to populate a verified address with an 8 digit geocode automatically, saving a lot of people a lot of work.

You can see my proposal for this in the LDS tech wiki article on Boundary Changes. Major benefits is that it is simple, consistent, and compatible with emergency services anywhere.
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aebrown
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Re: Why isn't MLS using the U.S. National Grid?

#20

Post by aebrown »

michaeldnash wrote:If the address of every household in the stake were geocoded consistently in the ward or stake field, the time spent by priesthood leaders studying potential boundary changes is reduced significantly, and the clerk's time is reduced even more.
...
You can see my proposal for this in the LDS tech wiki article on Boundary Changes. Major benefits is that it is simple, consistent, and compatible with emergency services anywhere.
The wiki article referred to is the Geo code article (not the Boundary realignment article). I raised a question on the discussion page of the wiki article, but you apparently did not see it, because there has been no response there, so I'll post my concerns here.

It appears to me that the suggestion to use the US National Grid System doesn't accomplish the goals of the Geo code as it is used in MLS. Although there are certainly merits to the suggestion for determining the location of a household, that's not what Geo codes are for. They are used for grouping households. Since this proposal would end up with a unique Geo code for each household, there would be no grouping at all. Thus it is totally unsuitable for boundary proposals, which depend on multiple households (usually at least a dozen or so) being grouped into a single Geo code.

It's unfortunate that the term "Geo code" as used in MLS is so close to the term "geocoding" which refers to determining the geographical position of a building or some other location based on its address. So the confusion is understandable. This seems like a reasonable approach to geocoding, but not for MLS Geo codes.

Could you help me understand how this unique code could be used with MLS in doing boundary realignment when it doesn't provide any ability to group households? Also, although I understand the merits of simplicity, I guarantee that the Church (nor any of the members or leaders) is not going to like ward boundaries that follow strict grid lines in cases where those grid lines cut through curved streets in a variety of odd ways.
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