KCL Software Solutions

Geographic / Community Searching

This article explains how location / service area information is used in various fields in the Community Information and Volunteer Opportunities modules of the Online Resources software, including recommendations for how to maintain those fields for optimal results when searching.

Areas Served

The Areas Served field captures the physical location of the organization or program, rather than where they are located. This value should be as specific as possible within the context of your database; i.e., choose communities at a level that will be recognizable to the public who live in the area, and avoid having one record located in a specific neighbourhood while another record in the same area is listed as located in the larger town or city. It is not necessary to include any overlapping communities when filling in the Areas Served; if the record serves all of Ontario, do not indicate that it also serves Toronto.

When searching the Areas Served field from the Communities search on the Basic or Advanced Search forms, the software has the following behaviours:

  • Records with no Areas Served value will not be returned from any search that searches the Areas Served. Therefore, make sure a value is specified in every record. In the worst case, where you don't know the service area or there is no specific limitation on the service (i.e. - a virtual organization)
  • Records with extremely generic values such as Not Known, Not Limited, Canada, or Ontario are likely to appear in every search, so these values should be used only after careful consideration and confirmation that the service area does in fact cover such a large (or undefined) area. Be aware of the implications of using these values when records are shared into provincial or neighbouring databases; will the record really be useful to people outside your local area? When using an extremely generic value like this, it may be useful to include other smaller regions (e.g. Province, State) as well even though they are redundant, for keyword searching purposes or to ensure compatibility with other systems that may not support such generic values.
  • Records with a specific community will come up in any search for a Community that occurs above or below it in the Communities table hierarchy. This means that a search for "Ontario" and a search for "Burlington" will both return a record that is located in "Halton Region", because "Halton Region" is located inside "Ontario" and "Burlington" is located inside "Halton Region" according to the Communities table hierarchy.
  • Areas served notes serve as a good point for clarification, but do not affect the search results. Ensure that the communities you select reflect the search results you intend, and then provide further clarification on the service area through the notes if required. Notes can be used to refine or expand the service area (ie - "west end only" or "and area") to allow for data accuracy and effective searching.

Because of the above behaviour, it is important to always select at least one Community value from the Communities table for every record. Do not select overlapping Communities and make a serious effort to not select a service area that is too generous and does not reflect the effective or practical service area of the record. If an organization or program reports a large service area, you may need to press for confirmation that they do in fact service people across the entire area.

Located In Community

The Located In Community field captures the physical location of the organization or program, rather than the area they serve. This value should be as specific as possible within the context of your database; i.e., choose communities at a level that will be recognizable to the public who live in the area, and avoid having one record located in a specific neighbourhood while another record in the same area is listed as located in the larger town or city.

When searching the Located In Community field from the Communities search on the Basic or Advanced Search forms, the software has the following behaviours:

  • Records with no community value come up in every search; this is because the record might be located in the community - it is impossible to know without the information being filled in. Therefore, make sure a value is specified in every record.
  • Records with extremely generic values such as Not Known, Not Limited, Canada, or Ontario are better than nothing, but also likely to appear in every search and so have limited value.
  • Records with a specific community will come up in any search for a Community that occurs above or below it in the Communities table hierarchy. This means that a search for "Ontario" and a search for "Burlington" will both return a record that is located in "Halton Region", because "Halton Region" is located inside "Ontario" and "Burlington" is located inside "Halton Region" according to the Communities table hierarchy.

Because of the above behaviour, the more specific you can be about the Located In Community, the more accurate your search results will be.

Number of Positions / Areas of Need

The NUM_POSITIONS Field in the Volunteer Module (often named "Number of Positions" or "Areas of Need") operates like the Areas Served field in the Community Information Software.

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