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ward boundaries on file

Posted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 8:53 am
by CuriousGIS-p40
It is really too bad that the brethern do not release this information. As you may know, church HQ has a GIS department that maps out boundaries for all the different units. If your stake president requests maps of your stake the department will send him maps of all the boundaries. However, the brethern have said this information is not to be released, though I do not understand why. I suppose you could use how often the boundaries change to interpolate how fast the church is growing.

Puzzled

Posted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 6:43 pm
by note4mark-p40
CuriousGIS,

"I suppose you could use how often the boundaries change to interpolate how fast the church is growing."

Even if that were true -- I have no clue as to the veracity of that statement -- why would knowing how fast the Church is growing be a sensitive issue? Am I showing my naïveté here, is there some larger issue I should be aware of?

Mark Cross
Eustis FL

Posted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 9:37 pm
by rmrichesjr
note4mark wrote:CuriousGIS,

"I suppose you could use how often the boundaries change to interpolate how fast the church is growing."

Even if that were true -- I have no clue as to the veracity of that statement -- why would knowing how fast the Church is growing be a sensitive issue? Am I showing my naïveté here, is there some larger issue I should be aware of?

Mark Cross
Eustis FL
Just a guess: If a bad guy had a map of the exact ward boundaries, he would know when houses of members would be unguarded. The information could facilitate criminal purposes.

Posted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 11:59 pm
by note4mark-p40
rmrichesjr,

Interesting insight. I just don't think like a criminal I guess! I had never thought of using knowledge of ward boundaries in a criminal way before. I suppose it would be best, from a security point of view, that wards or branches not describe their boundaries on their web sites at lds.org. But small towns with only one ward or branch mightn't want to list their meeting times either then, from a security point of view, since the unit boundaries are the same as the town boundaries, and a criminal could easily guess that. For larger urban or suburban areas, the meeting times could be taken off the units' web sites -- then the boundaries could be listed securely. But that would have its cons, too, wouldn't it...Well, at any rate, you have made an interesting guess.

reason for not releasing data??

Posted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 12:47 am
by CuriousGIS-p40
The perpetrator would also have to know where members lived and if they were active. If they know this information already they probably do not need to know boundaries of the wards, ie if they have done their homework and cased out the location.

I am not sure why they do not release it, where there are many units, ie SLC you could probably perform an allocation analysis to find the probable boundaries of the units. There may be legal aspects of releasing the information that we are not aware of. Or perhaps, since the church is growing so quickly it would place a burden on the GIS department to update it and get new copies out. I am sure there could be several other reasons we have not already guessed at.

However, it is nice to know it is available if your Stake does do some reorganization you can obtain a JPG and georectify it and map out your boundaries fairly quickly. (Last time I checked they could not release the shape files)

Posted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 10:34 am
by note4mark-p40
CuriousGIS,

"The perpetrator would also have to know where members lived and if they were active."

2 more very good points I hadn't thought of!

Who says boundaries are not for release?

Posted: Sat Jun 14, 2008 9:43 pm
by RossEvans
CuriousGIS wrote:It is really too bad that the brethern do not release this information. As you may know, church HQ has a GIS department that maps out boundaries for all the different units. If your stake president requests maps of your stake the department will send him maps of all the boundaries. However, the brethern have said this information is not to be released, though I do not understand why. ...

This was news to me. Could anyone point to a source for this? What authority has said boundaries are to be kept secret?

I am surprised they are not publicly disseminated on lds.org, and thought it was just due to intertia or lack of prioritized resources. Open file formats formats for GIS programs (.shp) as well as popular web viewers tools such as Google Earth and Google Maps (.kml, .kmz) are readily available.

I have created a precise GIS map of our own ward boundaries and shared it with our leadership. Some of us were wondering if we could share it with members generally. Would we be violating some policy directive, letter from CHQ, etc?

The church does send us a poster-sized map, and .pdf files of same. (One gripe: The .pdf files we got from the church for all the units in our local area circa 2005 were saved as vector drawings. So a user could zoom inside Adobe Acrobat and see the streets clearly. But the .pdf replacement we got after a recent stake reorg was produced from raster images of the same map. Zooming in just yields fuzzies.)

Posted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 11:40 am
by rmrichesjr
boomerbubba wrote:...
I have created a precise GIS map of our own ward boundaries and shared it with our leadership. Some of us were wondering if we could share it with members generally. Would we be violating some policy directive, letter from CHQ, etc?
...
I have seen paper maps and legal descriptions of ward/stake boundaries shared with members of the unit(s) involved, particularly during and after a split or boundary change. However, it might be a good idea to wait for a more official statement before distributing the GIS file more widely than to those who have a need to know.

Posted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 4:01 pm
by RossEvans
rmrichesjr wrote:I have seen paper maps and legal descriptions of ward/stake boundaries shared with members of the unit(s) involved, particularly during and after a split or boundary change. However, it might be a good idea to wait for a more official statement before distributing the GIS file more widely than to those who have a need to know.

That's what I am asking for -- an official statement.

CuriousGIS mentioned above that CHQ would not release its own GIS file formats of the maps created there. CHQ's practice instead is to send printed maps and .pdf files to local units for the asking. CuriousGIS also implied, without citing an authoritative source, that these maps are not to be released. I am asking if anyone can point to such an authoritative policy, or did CuriousGIS just ask for a .shp file from Salt Lake and was told No.

I also note that there may be different issues, such as copyright and resource demands, involved with publishing the church's own maps. Such issues do not obtain so directly if a ward or individual member creates their own map from scratch in GIS software. (Easily done with the right tools.) That is what I have done for our ward leaders. The effort immediately paid off by indentifying several houselholds on our rolls who were outside our boundaries.

My question of whether the church as a matter of policy forbids members and local members from creating their own renderings of ward maps and sharing them. Is the content considered secret?

To be clear, while I welcome discussion about whether this is desirable, what I really want to know is what is officially prohibited. I never imagined it might be an issue until I read CuriousGIS's posts above.

Posted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 4:58 pm
by The_Earl
boomerbubba wrote:That's what I am asking for -- an official statement.

CuriousGIS mentioned above that CHQ would not release its own GIS file formats of the maps created there. CHQ's practice instead is to send printed maps and .pdf files to local units for the asking. CuriousGIS also implied, without citing an authoritative source, that these maps are not to be released. I am asking if anyone can point to such an authoritative policy, or did CuriousGIS just ask for a .shp file from Salt Lake and was told No.

I also note that there may be different issues, such as copyright and resource demands, involved with publishing the church's own maps. Such issues do not obtain so directly if a ward or individual member creates their own map from scratch in GIS software. (Easily done with the right tools.) That is what I have done for our ward leaders. The effort immediately paid off by indentifying several houselholds on our rolls who were outside our boundaries.

My question of whether the church as a matter of policy forbids members and local members from creating their own renderings of ward maps and sharing them. Is the content considered secret?

To be clear, while I welcome discussion about whether this is desirable, what I really want to know is what is officially prohibited. I never imagined it might be an issue until I read CuriousGIS's posts above.
If you need an official answer, you should contact CHQ through your leadership.

Unofficially, no one on this forum has ever made a clear statement that boundaries are public or not, nor has any official letter / policy / statement either way been cited. There is also no generally known method to get a computer-readable set of GIS boundaries, only the maps you mentioned above.

There are many of us that would like to see a public official repository of boundaries in a computer-readable format. Please let us know what you turn up.

Thanks
The Earl