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Does the church maintain meetinghouse locators at Google Maps?

Posted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:01 am
by RossEvans
If a user goes to maps.google.com and searches for something like LDS Church, Austin TX, Google will find meetinghouse locations that Google has entered, just as it maintains point-of-interest records for many businesses, etc.

Clicking on such retrieved icons retrieves balloons with further information, including URLs. (Typically, businesses and organizations will claim their Google Map records and enter their own URLs and other contact info.) I notice that there is no consistency for LDS meetinghouse records. Some just have URLs for lds.org; some say familysearch.org; some have no URL at all.

I think it would be nice if the church maintained a URL for each meetinghouse, pointing to a page similar to the pages retrieved by searching maps.lds.org directly, that would display units' meeting times and include links to their unit home pages. Someone also would have to work with Google to claim these pages and enter the specific URL for each meetinghouse. Seems like much of the infrastructure to create the meetinghouse pages could be adapted from maps.lds.org.

That way, any traveling member or visitor who comes in through a Google search would get results similar to those who started at maps.lds.org. Businesses have their own web sites with location information, but their marketers also work to maintain their records at Google.

(BTW, I got this idea when I was playing with the Google Maps app on my Android phone today. I clicked Search, touched the microphone icon, and spoke, "LDS Church." The mobile phone app knew my location from the integrated GPS and showed me Google's records for meetinghouses nearby. Clicking through those icons didn't yield much further information except the address, but it would have been great if the underlying Google records had specific URLs for pages maintained by the church. Cool how all these technologies are merging.)

Posted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 1:48 pm
by jbh001
boomerbubba wrote:Businesses have their own web sites with location information, but their marketers also work to maintain their records at Google
I've tried to do the same for my own ward because the default Google results did not identify the correct location (and thus driving directions) for our meetinghouse.

I don't know that it is advisable or prudent for others to follow my lead.

The main reason I did it in the first place was because Google still does not show the now 9-year-old streets of the subdividion our new meetinghouse was built on. Thus I had to manually re-locate Google's marker to the correct location so that driving directions would work more reliably. I made a similar adjustment to maps.lds.org when it first came out, and for the same reason.

Posted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:03 am
by marianomarini
Church has his own site for meeting houses location (maps.lds.org). It use google or Microsoft maps but there are information about unities listed.

Posted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 11:48 am
by RossEvans
marianomarini_vi wrote:Church has his own site for meeting houses location (maps.lds.org). It use google or Microsoft maps but there are information about unities listed.


The church's use of Google software and some map layers in maps.lds.org does not include all the "business" points of interest -- which also includes non-business locations such as churches -- that the public sees in maps.google.com. Google apparently has cataloged those locations independently.

What I am proposing is that in addition to building the church's own site, it also would be desirable to do something smart with the public Google web site. Google offers third parties, typically businesses but not limited to businesses, to populate their Google point-of-interest markers at no charge as a marketing tool. The Google Maps portal is very likely to be hit by many users (members and non-members) who don't even know about the church maps site.

I am basically suggesting that the church build location-specific links into the Google site, channeling users into most of the same basic information ultimately retrievable from maps.lds.com: meeting times, unit names and contact information. What would be missing would be the assigned-unit information.

Posted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 5:37 am
by marianomarini
Sorry, I misunderstood your post.
I think your suggestion is a good one. Maybe adding item LDS into searching editbox.

Posted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 12:29 pm
by russellhltn
boomerbubba wrote:I am basically suggesting that the church build location-specific links into the Google site, channeling users into most of the same basic information ultimately retrievable from maps.lds.com: meeting times, unit names and contact information. What would be missing would be the assigned-unit information.


The task could be simplified by sticking to just times and not include unit names. In most cases, the visitors won't care and the meeting times generally do not change from year to year - just the units assigned to a particular block. The one exception is language, student and singles wards.

But I agree. It seems like a good idea. If the information is going to be public anyway, the church might as well control it and use it to it's advantage.

Posted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 2:07 pm
by RossEvans
RussellHltn wrote:The task could be simplified by sticking to just times and not include unit names. In most cases, the visitors won't care and the meeting times generally do not change from year to year - just the units assigned to a particular block. The one exception is language, student and singles wards.


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. All that data is obviously available in databases that support maps.lds.org.

A more significant task would be labor-intensive -- not necessarily a programming task at all, although some programming could make it more efficient. Someone would need to relate our meetinghouse records one-to-one to Google's, transmit bulk uploads to Google and verify their authenticity according to established procedures.

Posted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 7:28 pm
by scion-p40
RussellHltn wrote:The task could be simplified by sticking to just times and not include unit names. In most cases, the visitors won't care and the meeting times generally do not change from year to year - just the units assigned to a particular block. The one exception is language, student and singles wards.

But I agree. It seems like a good idea. If the information is going to be public anyway, the church might as well control it and use it to it's advantage.


Identifying the building and providing a link to the public page for that stake should do the trick. That would accommodate the time, language, and SA issues all at once. (My stake has 1 other language branch & 2 SA wards.)

Posted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 8:46 pm
by RossEvans
scion wrote:Identifying the building and providing a link to the public page for that stake should do the trick. That would accommodate the time, language, and SA issues all at once. (My stake has 1 other language branch & 2 SA wards.)


But in this situation, the Google user has not selected a stake. (He may have no idea what a "stake" is.) The user has simply selected an LDS meetinghouse on a map. My idea is to point the user from the Google Maps icon to a church page related specifically to that meetinghouse: when the meetings are there, whom to contact, etc.

That information is now readily available in the databases already built behind maps.lds.org, so querying it by meetinghouse and generating a web page should be programatically straightforward. As I said, that would be the easy part. The harder task would be administering the individual links with Google.

Posted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 1:30 am
by russellhltn
scion wrote:Identifying the building and providing a link to the public page for that stake should do the trick. That would accommodate the time, language, and SA issues all at once. (My stake has 1 other language branch & 2 SA wards.)


That might be OK if we were starting with nothing, but it would be a big step backwards from what maps.lds.org is doing now. My thought was to simplify the updates needed between what's in maps.lds.org database and google's.