Using Google Earth to view unit member locations
All content on this page is moving to LDS Help Center under the Meetinghouse Technology topic. This page was supposed to be deleted at the end of October 2012.
This article details a way to place all of the members of the stake onto an easily viewable Google Earth map that all of the leaders can view and interact with. This is very useful for emergency planning and for geographically relevant things like home teaching assignments.
The process of assigning a geographic location based on an address or other location data is called geocoding.
Note: Results similar to those described below are now possible using the LDS Maps application.
Steps To Map All Households
- Export the membership data from MLS for the unit. This creates a CSV or comma-separated-values file.
- Open the CSV data in a spreadsheet software package such as Microsoft Excel or OpenOffice Calc.
- Delete all but the following columns: Preferred Name, HH Order, Phone 1, Phone 2, E-Mail Address, Street 1, City, Postal, State/Prov, Priesthood, Married
- Select all the columns and filter the HH Order column so that only those records with a value of "1" are left (these are the heads of household). You want to do this so each member of the family doesn't end up with a separate "pin" on the map. To do this in OpenOffice, select all columns with data and select Data > Filter > Autofilter from the menus. Then click on the arrow in the down arrow popup menu in the HH Order column and select 1.
- Delete the HH Order column. We don't need it now that we've filtered on it.
- Re-Title the column headings: Title, Phone, Phone2, Email, Address, City, Zipcode, State, Priesthood, Married
- Copy and paste the data from the spreadsheet to the Batch Geocode website into the Step #2 field.
- Click the validate button.
- Click the Run Geocoder button.
- Click Download to Google Earth (KML) file. Do not click the "save the map to a webpage" button.
- EMail the KML file to the stake and ward leadership for planning purposes. It can be viewed in the free Google Earth software on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X as long as you have a recent computer or any computer with a fairly recent 3D card or built-in chipset.
- This method only lists heads of households, and not spouses or children. However, the process of including additional residents of the household is a bit more complex as you have to merge the data from different records. By adding another 'Y/N' field to the spreadsheet that calculates Melchizedek Priesthood from the contents of the Priesthood field, it is possible to group the icons into households with and without Melchizedek Priesthood (High Priest, Elder) by coloring the circles.
- I've created a script to allow generation of custom-built membership reports including the ability to generate tabular data which can be pasted into Excel or OpenOffice Calc. Look at the mlsmem2dir script for more information. (This script requires Python.)
- As is true of all MLS exports, members who have requested no contact are included. If the map is to be distributed outside unit leadership, all such records should be removed.
- The method described here -- having batchgeocode.com geocode the records and create a KML file for Google Earth -- works, but with one large caveat: it does not handle geocoding errors. Those can be errors of omission, families not geocoded at all, as well as errors of commission, families geocoded in the wrong place.