Sunday, January 14, 2007

How to Put Your Ward Directory on Google Earth

I've read on several blogs about members putting their ward directory on Google Earth. Some of the possible benefits of doing this include:
  1. Helping stake and ward leaders develop new boundaries.
  2. Planning home teaching and visiting teach routes.
  3. Getting instant directions to a members house
  4. It's tons of fun seeing your ward from outer space.
Creating a ward Google Earth does take a little computer know how. However, I hope to break the steps down clearly enough so that anyone could do this. Here goes!
  1. Download and install Google Earth 4- It's free!
  2. Go to your membership directory under "Stake and Ward Websites" on you have to register with your ward site to do this. You'll need your membership number to do so.
  3. At the top of the directory there's a link that says "csv." This stands for comma separated value and is a type of file. You'll need it. Click and download. It will save as an Excell spreadsheet (or whatever spreadsheet program you use.)
  4. You'll have to convert your csv file into kml file so you can plot the ward members on Google Earth. The quickest way that I have found to do this is using Batch Geocode, an online csv to kml file converter. Go to it.
  5. Open up your saved csv file in Excell. You're going to have to mess with it a bit. Above the column that says "addr1" type in "Street" as the heading. Above the column that reads "addr2," type in City, State and Zip. Note: Many people have been reporting that they have to split up the city, state, and zip into three different columns for this to work. I haven't had to do this, but I would suggest doing it. Use the spreadsheet "fill function")

  6. Copy the entire directory from Excell and paste it in Batch Geocode.
  7. Click "Validate Source"

  8. Under Location Fields on Batch GeoCode select "Street" for Address and "City, State, Zip" for the rest.

  9. Click "Run Geocoder"- What the application does is turn the addresses into co-ordinates for Google Earth. This part can take awhile if your ward is especially large.
  10. Scroll Down in Batch GeoCode and click "Download to Google Earth (KML) File

  11. You're done. Each dot represents a family in your ward. Bring your mouse over the dot and the name of the family will appear, their address, and phone number. You can also chose to get directions to or from this direction.
This is a kind of quick and dirty way to do it. It is possible to include some neat features by manipulating the csv file, like color coding for different organizations, less actives, ect. I'll save that for another post. Until then, enjoy.

How have you all been creating kml overlays for Google Earth? Anything easier than the way I've done it?

Update: Some people have voiced concerns about privacy issues. This is done with Google Earth, not Google Maps. This won't be published on the net or anything like that. It's all done on your computer, not on the web. So, there shouldn't be any concerns about privacy issues.

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Anonymous Chris said...

Saints Hackers -

Neat tool. I tried it tonite and find that over half of the addresses aren't properly mapped. I followed the directions you provided and used However, for many of the families, the locations plotted in googlemaps are simply based on zip code. For example, there are two families that live within a mile of us, and upon clicking upon any of the 3 of us, Google moves to a location central to our zipcode, which is the same location for all of us. So there is no mapped location (thumbtack) at our actual address.

It seems to me that the geocoding somehow is ignoring our street address, but instead maps us based on zip code.

Can you give me any advice to correct this?

January 14, 2007 at 8:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unless you do this on a secure, password protected site for ward members, this constitutes a serious invasion of privacy and I would not recommend it. I can see the potential for a whole raft of problems by putting this info out there.

January 14, 2007 at 9:44 PM  
Blogger The Saints Hackers said...

Chris- I'll look into your problem.

Anonymous- This is on Google Earth, not Google Maps, so the file is on your computer not on the web. It's completely private. There's no need to worry about privacy issues, unless you decide to publish it.

January 14, 2007 at 10:09 PM  
Blogger Jacob said...

Very interesting. I've developed a site to do just this thing. You upload the csv file and it returns to you the kml file. It is mostly the same thing, except that my site does the geocoding instead of using

However, I've been concerned with privacy as well, which is why I haven't published the website. I keep it private and only use it myself.

January 15, 2007 at 2:29 PM  
Blogger Rickety said...

I tried this with my ward where everyone lives in the same city and with the same ZIP. Everyone ended up on the same location which appears to be a similar problem as the one described by Chris.
I fixed it by creating separate columns for City, State, and ZIP and using the spreadsheet "fill" to duplicate.
I realize this is not a very helpful solution but one could look at it as being a hack around a hack.

January 15, 2007 at 2:33 PM  
Blogger The Saints Hackers said...

Jacob- That's cool that you were able to develop a geocoding app. I understand the need for privacy, but don't think there are any problems with using this web app.

Rickety- This is exactly what I was going to suggest to Chris, but you beat me to it. That's funny you all have had this problem with it. I haven't had to do any more messing around with the csv than what I described in the post. I appreciate the feed back!

January 15, 2007 at 3:01 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Thanks for the advice. It worked like a charm. I really like how you can export directions to googlemaps.

January 15, 2007 at 4:09 PM  
Anonymous Josh said...

Now all we need is a current list of Church buildings, mission homes, temples, etc worldwide to plug into Google Earth.

January 15, 2007 at 6:36 PM  
Blogger The Saints Hackers said...


Hehe. Funny thing is, I'm working on it. Stay tuned!

January 15, 2007 at 7:15 PM  
Blogger Thom said...

Followed these directions and, according to my nice kml file, my whole ward lives in the Atlantic, about 460 miles west of Sao Tome and Principe. Will try again later, maybe after separating the cities and zips into their own columns.

January 19, 2007 at 1:09 PM  
Blogger Brett said...

Seperating the city state and zip is the best move. Several people have said they've had the same problem. I don't know why I haven't the misplace ward problem.

January 19, 2007 at 1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i split out the city, state and zip and this worked for me like a charm. thanks. your link to batchgeocode is a bit off though.

January 21, 2007 at 10:50 PM  
Blogger Brett said...

Thanks for letting me know about the link. It's been fixed.

January 22, 2007 at 5:03 AM  
Blogger Kim Siever said...

Does this work for US addresses only (given it uses zip codes)?

January 31, 2007 at 1:38 PM  
Blogger Brett said...

Kim- good question. I have not looked into that. My first guess is no. It looks like batch geocoder is set up for US address. However, I'll look into and report later. Thanks for the question and thanks for stopping by.

January 31, 2007 at 8:19 PM  
Blogger ss said...

Absolutely perfect. Worked a treat. I expect this to be very useful in the coming months and years. Thanks for sharing.

February 22, 2007 at 11:35 AM  
Blogger Mira said...

Is there any straight forward way to print this on a plotter after you have it all onto Google Earth? Can a "map" be exported to a file that can be printed? Acrobat, for example?

June 10, 2007 at 3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, landed on your blog, nice stuff. I found a cool new tool for our blogs... It helps get latest news for our keywords directly on to our blog. I added it on mine. Worked like a charm.

June 14, 2007 at 7:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks like it limits the number of mapped addresses to 200. Is there a way around this?

August 22, 2007 at 3:47 PM  
Anonymous Yosemite1967 said...

Uh, FOLKS! Pasting your entire ward directory into the batchgeocode web site, which is likely logging every post to file, is a MAJOR SECURITY RISK!

June 3, 2008 at 12:48 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

I believe the geocode program just does a Yahoo geocode lookup on the address (street, city, state, zip). I don't think that the other personal data is uploaded. I haven't looked at the process, but a Yahoo geocode lookup is only interested in the street/city/state/zip data. That is not really 'personally identifiable information'.

If you are really worried about the other data, then strip it from the CSV, so that only the street/city/state/zip data is left. Or just replace all that other data in the columns with junk, and then cut/paste the geocode info back after the lookup.

June 3, 2008 at 3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Temples are at:

There are also a few files with history sites, and other things. Poke around and add.

You should also come to LDSTech:

We have a lot of cool mapping discussion there.

The Earl

June 3, 2008 at 8:43 PM  
Anonymous Scott Huskey said...

A couple other tips to add to this list:
-Do create separate fields for City, State, and Zip
-Watch for addresses where the “SW” “SE” “NW” “NE” has mixed case and correct it. Fix “Sw” to be “SW”
-Use Google Earth as your place to create the Map content
-Keep it to simple things like folders, polygons, and placemarks and it will work in Google Maps as well.
-Use ‘Save Place As’ from Google Earth to save a KMZ file
-Host this file on a web server to get Google Maps. To get Google Maps to load it, do one of the following:
- From the Google Maps web page type in the full URL to this file in the Search Maps field. Example:

-Or launch Google maps and your data directly like this:

Great stuff, I am using this to set up our Emergency Response Zones!

September 25, 2008 at 9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ahve been doing this through a different tool, but essentially the same. My problem is needing a map with a numerical or alphabetical reference placed on the map for each location.
This is then cross referenced to a excel list for each family, its particular needs, etc.
I cannot count on a priesthood leader having their laptop with them, and working, while attempting to contact members during a crisis.
I am now cutting and pasting a map together in an art editing program, then adding the necessary numbers, then printing it out to hand to each Ward Council member.
Do you know how to add a unique number to each location, which all will remain statically visible, allowing it to be printed with the number for each location shown?
This will be a big help, and reduce the amount of work considerably.

April 17, 2009 at 5:06 PM  
Blogger Gabe said...

Interesting idea.

I created an open-source app to create a ward photo directory from the ward website csv export (or MLS export) at

It would be interesting to include a page/map that shows where all the members live as well (or maybe thumbnail showing the street location or something).

July 15, 2009 at 4:49 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Great description, anyone have more detail or write-ups on using layers to add organization and/or HT/VT details?

January 24, 2010 at 7:31 PM  

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