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  has rich filter abilities that let you:

  1. Interactively explore your data.
  2. Determine a subset of targeted voters.
  3. Create a subsets that you can assign and share with others 
  4. Use your filtered view with any other feature in like printing, exporting a mail list, and maps.

Accessing the Filter plugin

There are several ways to access the filter ability:

1. You can access the Filter plugin directly from here.

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

trc-filter-icon

3. You can also access Filter from the plugin list for your sheet.
Common things to filter on are:

  • History –   this is how likely somebody is to actually vote.
  • Party Id  – this is the party affiliation.
  • Answers to questions like Result of Contact or Supporter
  • Other microtargeting information.

Using the Basic View

There are several views for filtering.  The “basic” tab lets you qickly filter on History, PartyId, and Age.

filter_basic

Using the Query Builder view

You can also switch to the “Query Builder” tab to create a more complex query.

Here’s a basic query to look for ‘social’ equals ‘hard left’, ie, social liberals. You can select the column, operator, and value to create a rule, and then click “run query”:

filter_1

We can then build up the query to also require people over 55 years old. This is means “social liberal AND over 55”.
The “add rule” button adds a new rule to the current group. Note that we have ‘and’ selected which means both rules must apply.

filter_2

If we meant “social liberal OR over 55” , then we can select ‘or’:

filter_3_or

Tip: If you got 0 results, check that you didn’t confuse an ‘and’ with an ‘or’.  For example, (Party == 1 and Party == 2) will give you 0 results. It should be (Party == 1 or Party == 2)

We can add multiple rules. This means social liberals between 45 and 55. filter_4_and

We can also click “add group” to create more complex expressions. This means “Social liberal AND (party is either 3 OR 4)”. Using groups is needed when you want to combine AND with OR expressions.

filter_6_compose

The other trick is to us the ‘history’ score (likeliness to vote) to narrow the number of targets. You can see the “Previous Results” tab at the right shows the results of queries you’ve made so far. For example, this query finds fiscal conservatives that are very likely (0.90 is 90% ) likely to vote. Note that is must be specified as a decimal between 0…1 and include the leading 0. (so “0.90”, not “.90”, not “90%”).

filter_5_history

For example, this query is for any women with Party equal to 1 and that live in the specified zipcode or city.

filter_query

 In our case, it gives us 4900 voters. We can repeat the query with 0.70 instead, and gets 17000 voters. 

Tip: If you want more data, you can upload it yourself via the data uploader or purchase additional data from a data vendor like Voter-Science.

 

Saving the filter

Once you run your query, you can set it as the targets or save it as a regular sheet:

filter_save

The “Save Query” button will prompt you for a name for this filter. When you hit the back button to go back to the List View, you’ll see it on the sheet list. At this point, the filter acts just like any regular sheet, and you can share it, print it, or use it with any other plugin.

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.

Viewing on a map

You can also visualize a heat map for the results.  For example, here’s a query of “Who are supporters that haven’t voted yet”. You can then map it, and chase them down:

filter_7_map

 

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

When you visit the homepage at https://canvas.voter-science.com, you must first log in, and then you’ll see a list of all sheets that you currently have access to.

You can gain access to a sheet by:

  1. Creating a new sheet yourself.
  2. When somebody shares a sheet with you (see below!)
  3. Entering a secret “canvass code” to grant you access to a sheet. This is a form of sharing.

 

Logging in to TRC 

You can log into TRC with an email address or via Facebook.  Anybody can log into TRC, but you may have an empty account until you gain access to some sheets!

Both the mobile applications and website use the same login mechanism.

Email login

If you log in with your email address,  TRC will email a temporary ‘pin’ to that address to confirm that it’s actually your address. You can enter that pin and complete the login.

Facebook login

Alternatively, you can log in with Facebook.

  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.

 

Secret Links and Canvass Codes 

 

An existing user, such as a campaign manager, may share a secret link with you that has an embedded password (a “canvass code”) that will grant you access to a sheet:

They look like this:

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

Be careful! These secret links grant full permission!

The link will first force you to log in, and then grant the current user permission to the sheet. It will then redirect to the sheet’s url and you are ready to use the sheet.  After this, you’ll see the sheet on the homepage https://canvas.voter-science.com, so you should only need to use the secret link once to gain initial access.

 

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.

Best Practices

  1. Have canvassing volunteers use their personal email (and not a campaign-supplied email).  This is a security benefit: it provides a degree of accountability by not allowing them to be anonymous; and it provides better reporting to track per-user activity.  And if you do find out a canvasser was doing a bad job, you can see exactly the scope of what data they submitted – and even purge it if it was bad.  And you can revoke on a per-user basis.
  2. Don’t share the whole sheet; only share the minimal area that canvassers need –  This is the principal of “Least Privilege“.  So don’t share every precinct with every volunteer. Just share the precincts with the volunteers in those areas, and wait until they’re about to be active too.

FAQ

How to share the entire parent list? 

Go to the plugins menu and use the Share plugin.  This will let you share the entire list.


How do I “transfer” ownership from one account to another?

Suppose somebody shared a sheet with you using one email address (ie john@contoso.com), but you want to access it from another email address (ie, john@victory.com). In this case, you can just share the sheet with yourself to pass it from one email address to the other.  Log in with the account you have permission to, and then share it with your other email address.

 

I can’t find the a “share with” button

Sometimes this happens when trying to share top-level sheets or very large sheets that aren’t yet partitioned into children. In any case, you can also find the sharing from the Plugin gallery.

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.

Can I share URLs?

Yes, you can share browser URLs with anybody.  These URLs have a long number (a “sheet id”) that uniquely identifies the current sheet. For example:

https://canvas.voter-science.com/sheet/Index/e6f81e03af44436392ceaa909b5890cc

These urls are not secret. In other words, if user pastes this link into their browser, but does not have permission to the sheet, they will not be able to view the page.

In contrast, the secret canvas urls (which look like: https://canvas.voter-science.com/home/sheet?code=SECRET) , will grant permission to the current user, and then redirect (302) to a normal url with the sheet id.

If a secret URL is pasted in the browser, it will immediately do a permission check and then redirect (302) to a non-secret url. That ensures it’s safe to share urls you see in the browser.