Does the church maintain meetinghouse locators at Google Maps?

So you have the BIG idea that the Church or community needs to develop. Discuss that idea here. Maybe you just want to make a suggestion on a new forum topic. Let us know.
RossEvans
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Postby RossEvans » Sun Jun 28, 2009 5:45 am

RussellHltn wrote:My thought was to simplify the updates needed between what's in maps.lds.org database and google's.


The ongoing update problem occurs when a new meetinghouse is built or an exising building is decomissioned. That is part of the work to sync Google's placemarkers with reality by linking them one-to-one to our own records for each meetinghouse.

But maintaining public links between our meetinghouse records and the dynamic assignment of units, meeting times, leaders, etc. is already being done for the database behind maps.lds.org. We could leverage that work and channel Google users to the church's own page.

That page in turn could provide location-specific information for both members and non-members alike, as maps.lds.org does. It also could include further links to maps.lds.org (for functionality about assigned units) as well as to the home pages of lds.org, mormon.com, etc.

scion-p40
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Postby scion-p40 » Sun Jun 28, 2009 10:24 am

Those who are active LDS will use the church websites to locate buildings, meetings, etc. Google maps can help direct non-members and inactive members to the church when they're looking up churches in any specific area. Use the already existing Mormon.org stake websites as the link on the Google maps pages. That way each ward & location in the area can be properly identified and the work is not duplicated. That is what I thought I said in the post below. :D There are some areas with many various languages within the US. Showing up at church without realizing that English is not spoken there would be frustrating. I don't see this as a "big step backwards", but rather as an additional opportunity to reach those currently outside our scope.

This reminds me of events a number of years ago in my life. I was heavily involved in promoting genealogy training being provided for free by a local non-profit org. Our publicity efforts included notices in the local newspaper, public library, and FHCs. Some FHCs would remove the flyer from the hallway bulletin board and add it to their notebook of flyers. That cut the publicity at those locations down to a tiny % (those who 1) already came to the FHC, and 2) knew to look in the notebook) from the potential of several wards with people seeing the bulletin board. Same theory with Google maps. It broadens the scope, but can still be used to redirect to Mormon.org.:)

RossEvans
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Postby RossEvans » Sun Jun 28, 2009 11:11 am

scion wrote:Use the already existing Mormon.org stake websites as the link on the Google maps pages. That way each ward & location in the area can be properly identified and the work is not duplicated.


The problem with using the existing pages is that maps.lds.org (which is what mormon.com / mormon.org / lds.org point to) do not yet have pages oriented to a single location with its own URL. So I am merely suggesting that such pages be generated so they can be linked when the Google user has selected a building on Google Maps. That's the easy part.

The hard part is working with Google to create the specific links on that end. Google provides tools to do that, and those tools are used by Big Box Retailer and Mom & Pop Restaurant to link to their own sites. I am suggesting that the church can do the same to leverage our existing data.

Of course the meetinghouse-specific pages would include languages and YSA detail as needed, just as they do on maps.lds.org.

jbh001
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Postby jbh001 » Sun Jun 28, 2009 2:41 pm

boomerbubba wrote:My guess is that it would not be all that difficult to generate web pages dynamically for each meetinghouse with whichever of those data items the church desires.
This "guess" seems wrong to me. As one that has gone through the trouble to generate such and entry for Google, it is easy to do for a given location or two. But for hundreds or even thousands of locations it would be daunting to set up let alone maintain with the current process required by Google.

Google requires a verification process before you can update the listing. This required getting a PIN from Google, and then being at the phone number listed when Google initiates and automated call for you to enter the PIN to verify your identity to Google.

Someone in Salt Lake is not going to be able to remotely answer the phone in my meetinghouse in Oklahoma to enter Google's PIN.

Even at that, it then took 3 to 8 months for Google update their listing with the information I provided.

RossEvans
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Postby RossEvans » Sun Jun 28, 2009 3:22 pm

jbh001 wrote:This "guess" seems wrong to me. As one that has gone through the trouble to generate such and entry for Google, it is easy to do for a given location or two. But for hundreds or even thousands of locations it would be daunting to set up let alone maintain with the current process required by Google.


You misunderstand my post, or I was not clear enough. My "guess" was about the programming required on the church end to generate one web page with a unique URL per meetinghouse from the maps.lds.com database. The availablity of the database infrastructure is obvious to anyone who uses maps.lds.org and understands how dynamic web sites are built. I still see that piece as no big deal, just generating URLs with a slightly different database logic.

But you are right about the process to update Google's own listings being a non-trivial task. That is why I am calling that the hard part.

jbh001 wrote:This Google requires a verification process before you can update the listing. This required getting a PIN from Google, and then being at the phone number listed when Google initiates and automated call for you to enter the PIN to verify your identity to Google.

Someone in Salt Lake is not going to be able to remotely answer the phone in my meetinghouse in Oklahoma to enter Google's PIN.

Even at that, it then took 3 to 8 months for Google update their listing with the information I provided.


Google does provide a bulk upload process for multiple entries. The generation of that bulk upload file, and subsequent verification, need to happen at CHQ. Your experience is evidence of that. It really is not feasible to authenticate and verify onesie-twosie at the local unit level, where there is no postal delivery or regular phone service.

I have no hands-on experience with this. I'm just going by what I have seen in Google's documentation and user forums.

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Postby RossEvans » Sun Jun 28, 2009 9:40 pm

I noticed after reading Google's help forums that there have been some nasty errors introduced recently within Google Maps' listings (merging data from unrelated business records). Perhaps it is not wise to pursue this idea until those bugs are resolved.

But Google is not going away. In the long run, if there are going to be map listings there that include LDS meetinghouses with or without our involvement, defense against wrong information may be another reason to police these listings centrally.


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