Editor’s Note: make sure to check out our update to this article titled “The Easy Way to Put Your Ward on Google Maps

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 lds.org– 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”)

    1. Copy the entire directory from Excell and paste it in Batch Geocode.
    2. Click “Validate Source”
    3. Under Location Fields on Batch GeoCode select “Street” for Address and “City, State, Zip” for the rest.

    1. 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.
    2. Scroll Down in Batch GeoCode and click “Download to Google Earth (KML) File

  1. 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.