New maps beta now available!

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mfmohlma
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New maps beta now available!

Postby mfmohlma » Mon Nov 23, 2009 4:38 pm

The new LDS maps is now in open beta! I just ran across this while browsing the new ward list capability at labs.lds.org (which itself is quite nice).

https://beta-maps.lds.org/

The login uses LDS Account credentials. Once logged in, you can view locations of all ward members. Clerks have additional tasks available, such as updating or verifying the geocoded locations and a task called "Add households to emergency response categories" which seems like it would be very useful. Another fun link is locations of all church owned facilities (temples, storehouses, seminaries, etc.)

Will write more later - time to beta test! :D

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Mon Nov 23, 2009 5:17 pm

I'm finding it quite slow. Boundaries may not show up. At first I couldn't see the ward boundaries, now I'm not seeing the stake boundaries. Both layers are checked off.

I'm wondering what it takes to have a address "locally verified" as all of them I see are not.

Some addresses are mapped far from where they should be, but I can't see what's wrong with the address. One address in particular is a couple of stakes off, on a street with a different name, yet it's the same address as 4 other households at the same address. The only difference I can see is the erroneous address is on a "St" instead of a "Street". :confused:
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

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mfmohlma
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Postby mfmohlma » Mon Nov 23, 2009 5:22 pm

I've noticed the boundary mapping is very slow as well. They do eventually update, though.

The address needs to be verified by a ward leader (including clerks). I've already verified a handful for my ward. I hope nobody at HQ gets mad at me, but I'm geocoding the address to the center of the visible rooftop by using the "Move" command for each household. I think this will be much more useful than just having the dot close to the house on the street. The address needs to be verified anyway, so why not make it as accurate as you can?

Oh, and I suppose it would help to read the instructions: :o

https://beta-maps.lds.org/help.jsf#firsttime

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Postby russellhltn » Mon Nov 23, 2009 5:46 pm

oregonmatt wrote:I hope nobody at HQ gets mad at me, but I'm geocoding the address to the center of the visible rooftop by using the "Move" command for each household. I think this will be much more useful than just having the dot close to the house on the street. The address needs to be verified anyway, so why not make it as accurate as you can?


Careful. Having the dot in the center of the roof is great for looking at a satellite photo, but driving directions needs to be thought about. Once you take a dot off the street, the driving directions will look for the closest street. Since the computer doesn't know about fences or other barriers, it may take you on a route that makes you cut though someone's yard - if it's even possible. BTDT (and followed the GPS).

I guess the confirmation isn't open to a STS, as I can't find any function to move households. (Hey, CHQ, how about a little tech support ability here? You do want me to help folks rather then calling you, right?) The site clearly know who and what I am.

Another quirk - I've got 5 households at one address, but it's broken into groups of 2 and 3. One is on a "St" and the other on a "St.". Yeah, one lousy period. And because it's on top on each other, you can't really see the second one even at full zoom-in.
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Postby RossEvans » Mon Nov 23, 2009 6:03 pm

Thanks for the link. I did read the directions, but there is so much ambitious functionality that it is hard to assimilate it all quickly.

As an assistant clerk, I share privileges and responsibilities to move the household locations, etc. One of my first impressions is that it is too easy to do that by accident when I am just trying to navigate the slippy map.

Those editing capabilities are a keen interest to me. I wonder if clerks in general will be able to verify and relocate households visually. The underlying design assumption seems to be that clerks will know the right location when they see it visually, which is probably a good assumption if your ward is six square blocks in Orem UT. I doubt that it is a good assumption for others in less dense areas. My urban/suburban ward is about 160 sq miles, and our 565 households are scattered among literally a couple of hundred thousand addresses on the map. There is probably no way I or other clerks in such areas can tell if an address is plotted accurately just by eyeballing it.

Another thing I might wish for, since my unit happens to be blessed with very precise geocoding of our own from local government sources, would be the ability to enter or paste known lat/lon coordinates for an address. (Perhaps that capability exists but I just haven't found it.)

The initial geocoding for the Church application was done automatically, presumably by the geocoding engines of Google and/or Microsoft. Such geocoding engines typically return codes denoting how precise the automated geocoding was, so users can concentrate on the problems. I see no indication yet that such intelligence is being shared with users. On the other hand, if the Church developers set a threshold level of quality before plotting any address at all, that might work. So far I have not discerned how that is working.

Yes, the initial rendering is rather slow, but I sort of expected that with these technologies (Google and Microsoft's mapping engines). It may be slower than typical for my ward because it is large geographically and numerically.

I was a bit surprised at the rough quality of the boundary for my unit. It is not even as good as the PDF maps we get from CHQ, and not as precise as my own home-built boundary map.

I am quite glad to see that both leaders and members will have a download capability, and that leaders can include confidential data including the MRN.

More impressions later.

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mfmohlma
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Postby mfmohlma » Mon Nov 23, 2009 6:05 pm

RussellHltn wrote:Careful. Having the dot in the center of the roof is great for looking at a satellite photo, but driving directions needs to be thought about. Once you take a dot off the street, the driving directions will look for the closest street. Since the computer doesn't know about fences or other barriers, it may take you on a route that makes you cut though someone's yard - if it's even possible. BTDT (and followed the GPS).


Yeah, that is something to keep in mind. Looking at the help file, it does look like there's quite a bit of emergency preparedness planning built in, so more accurate locations might be helpful. So maybe just note that they shouldn't be moved too far. ;)

RussellHltn wrote:I guess the confirmation isn't open to a STS, as I can't find any function to move households. (Hey, CHQ, how about a little tech support ability here? You do want me to help folks rather then calling you, right?) The site clearly know who and what I am.


This is a ward-centric thing. Nobody at the stake level can do any fixing:

https://beta-maps.lds.org/help.jsf#context-leader (typo included)

Only the following ward leaders are authorized to maintain and update household location information using LDS Maps. The names of authorized leaders are defined by MLS. (See MLS Main Menu/Organizations/Bishopric/Add Positions. This opens a list of the following bishopric positions.) The executive secretary does not have rights to maintain or updat location information in LDS Maps.

  • Bishop
  • First counselor
  • Second counselor
  • Clerk
  • Assistant clerk
  • Assistant clerk (finance)
  • Assistant clerk (membership)
RussellHltn wrote:Another quirk - I've got 5 households at one address, but it's broken into groups of 2 and 3. One is on a "St" and the other on a "St.". Yeah, one lousy period. And because it's on top on each other, you can't really see the second one even at full zoom-in.


It appears that grouping and ungrouping is built in to the whole verify process (but I haven't tried it yet).

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Postby russellhltn » Mon Nov 23, 2009 6:34 pm

boomerbubba wrote:Another thing I might wish for, since my unit happens to be blessed with very precise geocoding of our own from local government sources, would be the ability to enter or paste known lat/lon coordinates for an address. (Perhaps that capability exists but I just haven't found it.)


Some clerks may prefer to go out and use a GPS to mark the coordinates, so that feature would be handy. It would be nice if there was a way to simplify the process, but I'm not sure what to suggest for matching a GPS waypoint to a address to simplify that.
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Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

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Postby jbh001 » Mon Nov 23, 2009 9:43 pm

RussellHltn wrote:Some clerks may prefer to go out and use a GPS to mark the coordinates, so that feature would be handy. It would be nice if there was a way to simplify the process, but I'm not sure what to suggest for matching a GPS waypoint to a address to simplify that.
It would be nice to have an iPhone app for that.

Imagine driving to a members house, stop in their driveway or at their front door, use Safari on the iPhone to navigate to maps.lds.org, locate the member in the ward listing, than then click a button to use the iPhone's location services to transmit GPS coordinates for that address to maps.lds.org.

As the bishopric visits members, they can easily update the ward map at the same time (iPhone and cell reception permitting).

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Postby RossEvans » Mon Nov 23, 2009 9:55 pm

RussellHltn wrote:Some clerks may prefer to go out and use a GPS to mark the coordinates, so that feature would be handy. It would be nice if there was a way to simplify the process, but I'm not sure what to suggest for matching a GPS waypoint to a address to simplify that.


Yes, that is also a viable option for discovering true coordinates, especially with GPS devices and GPS-enabled smartphones becoming more ubiquitous. There are plenty of ways to capture digitized coordinates. There should be a way to paste them into an update screen.

Even enabling that one record at a time would be valuable. One can always work around the problem visually by keeping something like Google Earth or a good map website open, pasting the coordinates there and visualizing the approximate location to copy graphically into maps.lds.org. But that is really a needless step when the underlying mapping functionality is built into this app.

My other concern is a little more basic: How is the clerk to identify efficiently which addresses need correcting in the first place, and which should just be verified as-is? In my own case, since we are blessed with a geocoded file that can be considered a "gold standard," especially for single-family homes, I might export the data first. Then I could easily run a GIS query against that benchmark database to rank the maps.lds.org records by how close their points are to the benchmark points.

But most clerks are not so fortunate to have such resources. Getting back to the GPS option, one way to create a benchmark standard is to take a few man-days with a smart GPS or two and attempt to visit each location, capturing the coordinates in a file.

Once the cumulative file is verified, verifying new move-ins becomes more feasible. But this will necessarily become part of the routine work of bishoprics, clerks and other leaders. For example, if bishoprics and quorum leaders already make a practice of trying to visit all new move-ins, it may become routine to snap a record of their GPS coordinates.

All if this might seem silly to someone living in a dense Wasatch Front ward. But these practical issues loom large out in the other stakes of Zion.

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Postby Mikerowaved » Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:25 pm

boomerbubba wrote:My other concern is a little more basic: How is the clerk to identify efficiently which addresses need correcting in the first place...

Since each member using the service must identify themselves with login credentials, why not allow them to do the verifying/repositioning for their own address? Who knows their own house from an aerial view better than the one residing there? If CHQ has a problem with this, then at least let each user submit proposed changes to their local leadership for approval. A clerk can then double-check it was done correctly and set it in stone. This would be far more efficient than researching each address from scratch.
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