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18 January 2008

Mapping Software Rocks

Partial Granger Community Church member/attendee data map[Map shown with partial membership/attendee data from Granger Community Church. The green line shows a 15 minute drive time from the church.]

I typically don't work with data. I typically don't work with maps. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've never worked with data and maps at the same time. But this past week I got my chance - and I was pleasantly surprised.

I took over a project that was started a few months back. The program they bought to complete the project is Microsoft MapPoint.

It took less than 2 days to learn the program in order to get the project done. In a nutshell, here are the things we learned and used in two days time:

  • Start by navigating to the part of the map that works for you
  • Pick a map format (roads, terrain, night etc.)
  • Pick your location(s). Enter an address or addresses in order to plot them on the map
  • Zoom in/out to get the desired amount of information on the map
  • Change the sizes of fonts, colors on the map and icons used to plot points
  • Quickly create regions based on drive time from a selected location
  • Add data to the map. Import an excel spreadsheet with addresses and each one is plotted on your map
  • Export to Excel. If you have a region on the map you can extract data only from that region out of the total data you imported
  • Use National Census Data (2004 Census Data all that was available in our copy) to plot data like average ages, people that subscribe to cable and who has gaming systems in their homes (just for the fun of it)
  • And I'm assuming we're only using the bare bones features of the program

So two things:

  1. I encourage you to test it out. See what a little mapping can do to help you get a visual on your attendance, membership, serving and even giving trends. I'm assuming our decision making might be enhanced slightly if this was a piece of that puzzle each time
  2. I'm no expert. What is everyone else using? Is Microsoft MapPoint one of the main tools? Or was this a bad one to start with? Does Google Earth Pro do similar mapping stuff with data imports? Is there another option all together that offers the same functionality?