Using the internet to provide information to our congregations has become mainstream over the last few years. Every diocese, and the majority of parishes, currently maintain websites that provide information regarding Mass times, staff contact information, ministry schedules, parish news, calendars of events, etc. Most parishioners rely on the internet to view the most up-to-date information regarding their parish.
As computer technology has become more accessible and user friendly, it is easier for parishes and parishioners to take advantage of free services available via the web. The ability to store information and data in the "cloud" has also created greater flexibility for mapping technology. The ArcGIS Enterprise Server software, by Esri, enables dioceses and schools to create web-based GIS mapping applications.
SSA has the ability to create a web-based mapping interface to provide comprehensive information to a diocese including parish-specific details and comparisons. The basic interface has the ability to switch from different basemaps such as aerial photography, topography, street map, etc. to provide the user with different contexts while viewing their data. The interface can also leverage 2010 Census data to provide visualization of demographic information. The legend can be dynamic and can change according to the information displayed on the map. The basic functionality of the interface includes the ability to turn various layers on/off on the map, display a variety of basemaps, find addresses and place names, draw simple graphics on the map display, and perform simple printing. The ability to create bookmarks allows the client to set up predetermined places to quickly locate at a later time.
Tools can be customized to allow for on-demand analysis. Some of these possible analyses include, selecting an area to determine the total number of families within the selected location, the number of families within a parish, and where other families are coming from within a particular parish. Each of these tools returns a table that can be copied to Microsoft® Excel or Word for further analysis and comparison. These tools can assist in the decision-making process for proposed changes at the diocesan or parish level.
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Click on the maps below to view them full-sized.