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LDS Maps App

Discussions around the Android version of the LDS Tools application

LDS Maps App

#1Postby belomorgan » Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:49 am

I was wondering if it was (or could be added) to the project plan the idea of a future maps app for mobile devices. Although nice to access the map through 3G/4G, it would be more convenient to sync the directory (similar to LDS Tools) over a wifi connection before heading out to rescue the members. This would be more beneficial for units with large boundaries. My current work around for my Android tablet has been to use Google bookmarks to star household locations on Google maps. Anyone else have similar needs or thoughts?
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#2Postby RossEvans » Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:02 am

belomorgan wrote:I was wondering if it was (or could be added) to the project plan the idea of a future maps app for mobile devices. Although nice to access the map through 3G/4G, it would be more convenient to sync the directory (similar to LDS Tools) over a wifi connection before heading out to rescue the members. This would be more beneficial for units with large boundaries. My current work around for my Android tablet has been to use Google bookmarks to star household locations on Google maps. Anyone else have similar needs or thoughts?


This really belongs in the Mobile Applications / LDS Tools subforum(s). And note that development for different mobile platforms is forked independently for each device.

Generally, I think you have a sound idea to capture on the device the church's own geocoded location data from maps.lds.org. I made similar suggestions in those mobile development channels last year. At the moment, I don't think that is happening on any of the devices, although I lost track of where the iOS version is. The Android LDS Tools app certainly does not capture this location today. Rather, when the user asks to map a member on the device, the app passes the raw street address to Google, which attempts to geocode it on the fly and map it. (I know that the iOS app did something similar the last time I saw it.) That typically takes a few seconds because the geocoding services are computationally expensive.

So the response time could certainly be improved by passing prestored lat/lon coordinates directly for mapping. This apparently is what the lds.org directory website does.

However, the downside is that the quality of the geocoding on maps.lds.org remains spotty today because it relies on manual coding by ward clerks, and that tends to be considered an optional task. Even some locations marked as "Verified" on maps.lds.org might be grossly wrong if members have moved and the clerk has not taken the extra step to move the markers online, so that flag in the master data (which could also be captured on the phone app) is not reliable. So the accuracy of the on-the-fly geocoding by Google, which tends to be quite good, may well be better than the coordinates that might be downloaded from the church web server. For the time being, I am glad that the LDS Tools developers have not yet implemented this suggestion. I prefer more accurate geocoding even though it takes a little longer.

The exciting promise of the church's geocoding on maps.lds.org -- with the goal of capturing rooftop-level geocoding for every household -- can have big payoffs for many applications. But that goal remains largely aspirational in practice.
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"Verified Location" & Offline Barriers

#3Postby belomorgan » Tue May 08, 2012 9:06 pm

Thank you for the response above. Hope these additional thoughts will encourage others to read and discuss the idea of having on offline map application (or include in LDS Tools).

The first area discussed was geocoding the addresses. Geocoding "on the fly" from Google (etc) is nice when I am near wifi (i.e. home, church). The purpose of the offline feature would be to have the member's location independent on mobile coverage. The solution would include being able to sync before heading out to rescue members with other members of my presidency.

I understand that "verified" locations are dependent upon certain individuals in the ward spending the time to keep addresses/locations updated. The whole ward council would benefit from syncing their devices to the most recent location. Having "LDS Maps" available offline removes the barrier to those devices with 3G/4G coverage to search for ward members. As each organization seeks out its members, they would want to report back any move/new address so that their app would stay current. Part of the rescue effort is knowing each of the members of the ward. My understanding would be that manually updating would then change from an "optional task" to one of necessity as it assists multiple organizations in the rescue effort.
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#4Postby russellhltn » Tue May 08, 2012 9:06 pm

Seems to me that you'd end up with a more functional product by making use of the built-in maps app found in Android devices. I think the feature I'd ask for is the ability to put multiple points/entire ward on the map instead of viewing them one-by-one. I know something similar can be done via the web Google maps app and sync via the layer via my Google account to my phone.

The only problem is to do that with members, I'd have to upload the directory to Google. Obviously not something I want to do or would suggest that others do.

As for manging them from a mobile device, first there has to be a API created that allows that. I'm not sure as that has been created.
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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#5Postby RossEvans » Wed May 09, 2012 7:00 am

belomorgan wrote:The first area discussed was geocoding the addresses. Geocoding "on the fly" from Google (etc) is nice when I am near wifi (i.e. home, church). The purpose of the offline feature would be to have the member's location independent on mobile coverage. The solution would include being able to sync before heading out to rescue members with other members of my presidency.


Sounds like your objective is really a maps app with full offline capabilities. Both the church's LDS Tools app and the Google Maps app require connectivity of some kind to download both the address locations and the base map tiles on the fly somehow.

You might investigate the OsmAnd app for your Android tablet. (Caveat: I have not tried this personally.) This app downloads base maps themselves, using Open Street Map data, and stores them offline. From the home page for the OsmAnd project it appears that there is also a capability to load your own location points of interest. Someone would have to work out converting the geocoded CSV member data downloaded from maps.lds.org into Osm format, which would take a modicum of skill. So while this is not the fully integrated, LDS-specific app you might be looking for, it might be made to work for your purpose.
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