Why should you save your data back to the cloud

A major benefit of a mobile canvassing app is that your work is automatically recorded. However,  it’s common for people to export their data to another system and work off that; or print out their lists and work off a printed walk list. In those cases, be sure to update your data in TRC afterwards! When using paper lists, here’s why it’s worth the extra effort to save your results back to TRC:

 

1. Ensure your data is saved and secure

Paper can get lost or stolen.  Whereas data in TRC is safe and secure. It’s saved on the cloud and TRC’s sandbox model guarantees that your data will never get accidentally overwritten.

2. Easy sharing with other campaigns

Once your data is in TRC, it’s easy to conditionally share portions of it with other campaigns. For example, suppose you’re running for a city council race which overlaps another schoolboard race. TRC can automatically figure out just the overlapping records and just share those. That analysis is hard to do with paper.

Furthermore, suppose you’re canvassing team is asking three separate questions and you only want to share results from one of the questions. Again, once your data is in TRC, you can easily do that controlled granular sharing.

3. Make sure you don’t double-contact the same people.

Updating the data on the server ensures your campaign doesn’t accidentally contact the same person multiple times, especially when you have multiple canvassers operating independently.  Accidentally contacting the same people multiple times would be wasting resources and could also be perceived as harassment.

4. Enables searching for patterns and identifying new supporters

Knowing your specific supporters lets us run predictive analytics to identify other potential supporters.  For example, suppose your district has 50,000 voters. If your canvassing activity identities 200 supporters and another 100 non-supporters, we can then use analytics to search for patterns. Perhaps you’re doing well among certain issues, we can then use predictive analytics to find new likely supporters that are also interested in those issues. That can further refine your target.

5. Get GOTV reporting

TRC provides campaign-wide reports for Get-out-the-vote and election predictions. In 2016, these reports were frequently 99% accurate for legislative district races. The more data you provide back to TRC, the more accurate predictions and reports it can provide back you.

TRC Map View

TRC includes a map view that shows you the voters as pins on a map. This is a standard view similar to what you’d see in any canvassing app. Since it runs directly in the browser, there’s no additional installation step needed.

The map view is exactly the same underlying information as in the List View, so you’re encouraged to use whichever view makes you most productive.  You can make changes in the map view, and then immediately switch to the List View and see them.

A common pattern is to use Geofencing to carve up a large region into smaller neighborhoods, and then you can use the map view to canvass those neighborhoods.

Using the map view

The pins are color coded by party ID. Hollow pins are doors that have already been visited. You can go back and edit answers on visited doors.

trc-map-1

You can touch a pin to see the voters at that household:

trc-map-2

If nobody is home, you can mark “Result Of Contact” for the door and move on. Else, you can select an individual to see their information and record the canvassing results.

Be sure to

  1. fill out the Party ID,
  2. fill out whether they’re a supporter, and
  3. result of contact.
  4. hit the “Save” button

trc-map-3

Getting to the map view

You can get to the map view by touching the “View Map” buttons on the standard walking list.

Offline usage

The map view leverages HTML5 local storage support to provide an offline experience even though it runs in a browser.

This means that you can load the map view while you have an internet connection, and then canvass offline, and then upload the results when you’re done. However, it’s highly encouraged to canvass with a cel connection so that your results are immediately uploaded. Even if you temporarily lose connectivity, your results will be uploaded when you regain a connection.

To verify your results are all uploaded, on the main page, touch “Local Storage” in the upper right corner. That will take you to a page like this:

Hit the refresh button to pull the current status. If you have outstanding changes and running offline, you’ll  see something like this:

trc-map-offline-1

Once you’re back online, hit the “Refresh” button again once online and verify the “Number of Changes not yet uploaded” is 0.

trc-map-offline-2

 

 

How to filter lists

TRC lets you filter your lists.  The filter will create  a new share code that lets you then share your filtered view with others  or use your filtered view with other parts of TRC like printing and maps.

You can access filtering via the standard list view.  Click the filter icon in the top-left view:

trc-filter-icon

Select the filter accordingly. Be sure to include a name for the filter (highlighted in yellow) and then click “apply”

Common things to filter on are:

  • History –   this is how likely somebody is to actually vote.
  • Party Id  – this is the party affiliation.

trc-filter-page

It’s important to give the filter a name.

That will take you back to the list and you’ll see your new filter.

trc-after-filter

Click on “walking list” next to that filter, and you’re now viewing just within the filter.

You can click “share this” to share just this filter with another volunteer.

You can click “view entire walking list” to get back to the full list and possible create new filters.

 

Technical notes

Filtering creates a new “child” sheet that applies a filter-expression to extract a subset of the rows from the original (“parent”) sheet. The filter creates a a view that shares the same sandbox as the original sheet, so all changes in the child are instantly visible in the parent. However, the child sheet still maintains its own history tracking and audit logs.

 

 

 

The TRC Sandbox

The TRC canvassing app is sitting in front of a powerful general-purpose service for sharing tabular data files like CSVs.

This provides:

  1. Integrations – a means to two-way sync that tabular data with external data sources (like NationBuilder, Salesforce, Google sheets, dropbox, etc)
  2. User-management – you can share out a sheet with users, track per-user activity, and revoke permissions.
  3. Source Control – TRC provides both branching and full history tracking. Branching means you can create a “child” sheet that has a subset view of the “parent” sheet. Full history tracking means you can track every change.
  4. A compute engine – TRC has a general compute fabric for process joins, merges, and aggregations on your data.

Sandbox and Isolation

Each campaign gets its own isolated view of the data, which we call a “sandbox”.  This means that two candidates can running against each other for the same position against each other in a primary,

Sandboxes can then be further partitioned among your volunteers.

trc-overview

For example, R1…R5 are individual records.   User U1 is synchronizing the data with some external data source, such as NationBuilder or Salesforce.  S1 refers to U1’s sandbox.

U1 then shares out subsets of the sheet with volunteers on the campaign.  This creates a new sandbox S2 for User U2, which has access to rows R3,R4. And another new sandbox, S3, for users U5,U6,U7 which get access to R1 and R2.  Since U5,U6, U7 are in the same sandbox (S3), they can see each other’s changes.

The system is a distributed hierarchy, so any operation U1 can do in S1; U2 can do in S2. U2 is fully empowered within their sandbox! So U2 can divide their own sandbox and create a new sandbox for U3 and U4 to each edit R4.  Since U3 and U4 each have their own sandbox (in contrast to U5,U6,U7 who all share a sandbox),  U3 and U4 can edit the same record without conflicting with each other.   Their parent (U2) can then resolve any conflict.

This has several benefits:

  1. It allows multiple candidates to run against each other in a primary. They each get their own sandbox.
  2. Within a sandbox, it ensures that your data is never overwritten.
  3. It allows an untrusted people to submit data to your campaign. The data is just quarantined in its own sandbox and not integrated until proven safe.
  4. The full audit log allows purging bad data even after an integration.

TRC ListView

TRC’s default view is the “ListView”, which looks like a digital clipboard. Names are organized by street.   There are also other views, such as the common map view.

See http://bit.ly/1U1sgjJ  for a youtube demo.

The view looks like this:

trc-list-view

In the ListView, each row is a voter. Voters are grouped by address so that you can easily identify all voters at a single household when you’re at the door.  You can collapse voters by streets for easy managing.  The grouping is zebra striped (yellow /  white + grey) for easy-reading. The stripe color is purely ascetic.

When you edit cells, they start off red, and then turn green when they’re uploaded to the server.

trc-list-view-detailed

This provides immediate feedback on upload. Cells are colored red when you edit and green when their result is uploaded to the cloud, so you get immediate piece of mind that your changes are safely saved.

TRC supports collaborative editing: when multiple canvassers are walking the same precinct, other canvasser updates show up on your sheet in realtime.

 

Standard columns:

The default view in TRC includes some standard columns:

  • Voter address, name, age, gender – this is commonly from public Secretary of State Voter Database (VRDB)
  • History – this is a percentage of likeliness to vote in the upcoming election. This is similar to the “how many of the last  4 elections did they vote in”.  It’s computed via a predictive model and measurably more reliable than just a “4 score”.
  • Party – this is a party identification.
  • Supporter – Does the voter support your campaign? This likely correlates with party, but is very important in tracking cross-over voters and non-partisan races.
  • Comments – – this lets a canvasser provide free-form notes.

See Pinned vs. Floating values  for more details on where the data comes from.  

Targeted Voters

TRC will bold the “targeted” voters to help canvassers prioritize who to visit. For example, a precinct may have 500 people but you only have time to talk to 50 voters. The “targeting” helps prioritize which ones to talk to. TRC uses a default targeting algorithm, or you can supply your own targets, or you can coordinate with Voter-Science to use analytics to get a special target list for your campaign.

We continue to show all the voters because if you happen to talk to a non-targeted voter, we want to make it easy to record that information. (Knowing who the opponents are makes it easier to guess who our guys are).

Get-Out-The-Vote

Washington State is vote-by-mail. That means that people are casting their votes 3 weeks before the election. During these ballot chase periods, names will also be crossed off as people have voted.   Voter-Science collects the matchbacks from the county auditors.  See Prepping for the ‘16 General for more details.

Sharing with TRC

You first receive access to TRC via a “canvass code” or a secret URL. Normally, this arrives in an email to you.

The code is an 8-12 digit secret code that uniquely identifies you. It’s effectively a password. You can enter this in the starting webpage or on the phone apps.

For convenience, the code can also be directly embedded in a URL like this so that a single click takes you straight to your sheet:

https://canvas.voter-science.com/home/sheet?code=SECRET

Don’t share this url with anybody!

 

Facebook login

For larger areas, such as an entire Legislative District, TRC may also prompt you for a Facebook login. We use Facebook because:

  1. It’s convenient. Nobody wants to remember yet another password.
  2. Facebook is a secure system and has advanced security features like two-factor-authentication.
  3. We want the extra security when handling larger amounts of data.

For smaller areas, such as individual precincts with just a few hundred voters, you don’t need a Facebook login.

If you’re logged in with Facebook, then TRC can also remember the list of codes you’ve visited and will display them at the homepage, at: https://canvas.voter-science.com

Sharing sections of your sheet with new volunteers

Suppose you’re granted a code for an entire city with 10,000 voters.

You can share out individual precincts with volunteers. On the main screen, you’ll see a list of the precincts and a “share this” button:

trc-precinct-list

 

When you hit the “Share this…” button, you can enter an email address and short personal message.

trc-share-dialog

 

And then the volunteer will get an email with their own canvas code (just for their precinct) and their own url link. They can receive the email on their smartphone and open the app directly from there and be ready to go.

This code will be different than your original code. Unique codes let the system identify different users.

 

Who can I share with?

You could share a single precinct with multiple people and each would get their own unique code. This lets you identify each individual.

TRC does not charge per-user, so you are encouraged to share with as many people as you need.

Revoking codes

You can also revoke codes that you’ve shared out. For example, you may do this if you typed in the wrong email address.

Geek stuff

What a code is really doing is giving you access to a sandbox. You can share  a single sandbox with multiple people and use the per-user code to track which user is accessing the sandbox. By default, a legislative district split into precincts means that each precinct is a child sandbox.