Saving Lattitude & Longitude

I have asked about this prior to RM 8 release, but have seen little discussion about the problems.

I want to save the locations of family related features that might be lost to future generations. That means I must save in a form that will make sense in many decades time. To me Latitude and longitude seems the best way to save location.

My 1st issue is that RM8 uses a list of known feature locations (towns, cemeteries, etc), but it does not offer lat & long fields that I can fill in. That’s not much use if I want to record Aunt Mary’s grave site in Rookwood cemetery (286 Ha or ~700 acres, 3/4 m+ graves). If I am recording building’s location I want 3m accuracy, for a grave I want 1m (and problem 2 is that currently mobile phones only give location within 3 to 10m depending on a number of factors - hopefully greater accuracy will be available soon).
I can enter location in a general notes field of RM8, but that’s not as useful as dedicated fields. I want to record the locations of a dozen graves in Rookwood, so just editing the co-ordinates for Rookwood cemetery won’t solve the problem, I want to enter different co-ordinates for each section, row and grave number.
Problem 3 is that the Australian tectonic plate is moving faster than most other plates, ~6cm/annum. In the year 2120 a grave will be ~6m from its current location. So the database needs a field for date of measurement if the gr grandchildren are going to be able to locate it after surface signs of it have disappeared.

So my questions are:
Q1) how does everyone else handle this issue in the current version of RM8?
Q2) will location fields be included in the next version of RM?

Is the “Place Detail” screen not a sufficient place to record such details? It links to the person and event and a Place Report shows the same.
Perhaps I am missing something.

Thats what I am doing at present.
But that doesn’t remind the user to enter at least approx date the reading was taken. Also, specifying the co-ord system used would be a good idea. In Australia there is a differnce exceeding 100 metres between the AGD66 system and more recent ones. And differences (fortunately much smaller) exist between the more recent systems like AGD84, GDA94, etc.
I understand that Google Maps uses WGS84, so hopefully anyone taking GPS measurements will ensure they are taking WGS84 measurements (i.e. will first check their phone or whatever they are using is set to that), until a new standard is adopted world-wide. But having database fields that prompt you for this info would help those who are not that familiar with geodetics.
Also, having dedicated location fields in the database would allow developers to link the location infomation to other features that may in future be added to the software.

Not sure RM would consider it necessary or desirable to go to such lengths for what is a genealogy program and which would, I guess, not be used by the great majority of users. I would have thought if that level of detail is required, it would be more appropriate to extract the data from RM and combine with a program that meets those needs.

I share your desire for better GPS recording and reporting tools. I don’t consider RM’s mapping and GPS tools to be anywhere near adequate for recording such things as individual grave sites, locations of old farm houses, and the like.

I gather GPS coordinates for gravesites using a handheld GPS device that is designed for such things. I acquired it originally for back country hiking and geocaching and that’s what it’s really designed for. It’s just that it’s also handy for genealogy. It is much more accurate than my smart phone. It usually reports an accuracy under three meters, whereas my phone usually reports accuracy of no more than six meters at the best.

My device really reports accuracy of under nine feet, but that’s more or less the same as three meters. I find that the actual accuracy is usually better than that as follows. I can return to the same cemetery a few weeks later, begin a half mile or so away from the gravesite in question, and use a tool on the GPS device to walk to the gravesite. It will usually get me within a foot or two (less than a meter), which seems plenty good enough to me. I can also plug the GPS coordinates into Google Maps in satellite view and zoom in and the pin will be located right on the gravesite in question.

I have a custom fact in RM called Burial GPS where I record the GPS coordinates. I use a sort date to place the Burial GPS fact immediately after the actual Burial fact. I record the GPS coordinates twice in the Burial GPS fact - once in the Description field and once as a private note in the Note field. The GPS coordinates from the Description field appear in printed reports for family reunions. The GPS coordinates from the private note in the Note field are embedded in a URL which will create a clickable link to Google Maps with a pin on the gravesite when I publish my data to my Web site.

I hear the suggestion to geocode gravesites using RM’s Place Details feature all the time. But I can’t understand any rational way to do so. For example, I have dozens of burials recorded for Greenwood Cemetery in Knoxville, Knox County, Tennessee. One real example is at GPS coordinates 36.031402,-83.915407. I can’t think of anyway using RM’s built-in capabilities to associate those coordinates with the Place Details field of Greenwood Cemetery in such a way that the coordinates for that particular gravesite will appear in RM’s printed reports and that will appear on my Web site when I publish my data online. And I can plug my GPS device into my computer and extract data from it without needing to type the data into my computer.

Well, I don’t use Place Details anyway because Place Details are too likely to be lost when I transfer my data to other genealogy software. But whether I geocode this particular gravesite just to the Place Details of Greenwood Cemetery or whether I geocode this particular gravesite to the full place name of Greenwood Cemetery in Knoxville, Knox County, Tennessee, I don’t see how that really works. How do I distinguish that gravesite from other gravesites at the same cemetery?

I suppose you could add a plot number of some kind to the cemetery name in the Place field or in the Place Details field, but most of my cemeteries really don’t have plot numbers or anything like that. I would have to create my own plot numbers that wouldn’t mean anything to anybody else. And even if I did that, the coordinates would not appear in printed reports or on my Web page based the way RM stores the GPS coordinates.

For an example of my Web site, see Sample of RM data published online GEDCOM and Gedsite software Scroll down to the Burial GPS fact and click on it. You will be taken to Google Maps. You can zoom out to see where in the cemetery to drive to get that particular burial site. You can zoom in to see precisely where that particular gravesite is. The Google Maps pin in this case is to a flat to the ground marker instead of to an above the ground stone, and the flat to the ground marker is too small to see from Google Maps. But you can see many nearby above ground stones. Until RM’s geocoding can produce this sort of data for me, I’m not much interested in RM’s geocoding. By the way, to the far right of the Burial GPS fact, you can click on the small blue box and see the actual data that came out of my handheld GPS device.

The actual URL that I store in RM’s note for the Burial GPS fact looks something like the following. You can see that it’s a private note because it’s enclosed in {squiggly braces}. I remove the squiggly braces when I do the GEDCOM export to create the GEDCOM for my Web site.

{<a href="https://maps.google.com/maps/place/36.031402,-83.915407/@36.031402,-83.915407,400m/data=!3m1!1e3" target="_blank">36.031402,-83.915407</a>}

That’s a horrendous looking string. In addition to moving Google Maps to the correct coordinates and placing a pin at that location, it places the map in 2D mode rather than 3d mode and zooms the map view to a medium distance above ground. I settled on 400 meters above ground as the initial zoom. The user can then zoom the map further in or further out as needed. The target=“_blank” thing is standard HTML to get the link to open in a new window. The GPS coordinates are in the URL twice - once to center the map and once to place the pin. That way, the pin doesn’t necessarily have to be place exactly in the center of the map. The third appearance of the GPS coordinates is standard HTML to provide the text that the user sees to click on. The text could have been anything, but using the GPS coordinates themselves as the clickable text is what made sense to me.

I just noticed a curious “bug” for lack of a better term when looking at the URL in RM8’s note editor. The URL just sort of disappears and looks blank. I can get the URL to reappear by making the note editor panel wider or more narrow. But at the default RM8 note editor width, the URL just sort of disappears. It’s still there, but you can’t see it on the screen.

By the way, a few years ago Google Maps made the construction of such a URL much harder. It had been very easy and they made it very hard. I don’t know why they changed it to be so hard to do. Conspiracy theorists speculated at the time that they were trying to force users to pay money to be able to use the full Google Apps API rather than there being a simple URL way to open Google maps to a particular spot with a pin on a particular set of coordinates that you could use for free. I don’t have an opinion on the Google Maps rationale. I just know that the change made it much harder for me to open Google Maps to a particular location with a pin on a particular spot. Also with the old way, you could include text to be a title for the pin, but now there seems to no way to include text with the pin unless you pay money to be able to use the Google Maps API.

Thanks Jerry for your comments.
I suspect you spend more time using RM8, and you clearly have a lot more experience than I in computing and developing commands.
However, from my viewpoint, if one’s research is going to result in something that will benefit future generations, we need to record locations in a format that will mean something when a street disappears to make way for a new freeway, the surface evidence of a grave disappears (several decades ago Karrakatta cemetery in Perth removed all old graves, and developed a new one in the space between each old grave), etc. Recording location is even more important where people were buried in private graves on their farm or wherever.
Using grave number and row, or the street address of a house, doesn’t fulfill the test of making sense to someone next century, so to me Latitude and Longitude is the preferred way of recording location - hence I would like genealogy software to take seriously that method of defining location. And if you don’t record not only Latitude and Longitude, but also date (at least the decade) of measuring the location, and also which co-ordinate system you used to take the measurement, in future people won’t be able to locate the specified point.

And by the way, I initially used a Garmin nuvi 500 to measure Lat & Long. My results were not that good.
Since then I have used several phones, now a Samsung S20 FE 5G. I have the GPS Status App on it, and usually it will report better than 4 metre accuracy, usually closer to 3m - I am talking about points in the open with no trees or buildings nearby to degrade the signals, but occasionally I cannot do better than 5 or 6m accuracy indicated by GPS Status. And that seems to be repeatable if I return to the site some months later.
I often read the co-ords of a nearby survey point, then do a series of readings of the items I am interested in, at that site, then once more read the survey point. When reading a particular point, I usually take a reading after the figures have stabilised, then pick up the phone and walk maybe 5m away from the point, return and repeat the reading. It takes time, but I seem to get repeatable results.
Some time I need to compare my readings of survey points with the official co-ords. I expect some of the lower order points will differ a bit from my readings.
We are gradually getting better mobile coverage of country areas, but I still need to download maps showing where the points are before I leave home, in case there is no mobile signal when I reach the spot. But of course survey points get dug up by construction workers (or others), so quite commonly I cannot find the point when I arrive.

Don’t a location’s latitude and longitude change over time? I’m not talking about the actual lat/long grid projected onto the Earth, but the places in relation to that grid. Tectonic plates are moving all the time, as is the shape of the earth and earthquakes cause surface shifts.

And I’m not sure if this has any bearing on the issue, but the Earth’s magnetic north pole moves about 60km per year, which causes airports to renumber their runways every so often.

So, I would think that for genealogical purposes, if a coordinate can get me within 9 feet, that’ll be close enough. And if, in 50 year’s time, I’m within 10 feet, it’s still OK.

The movement of the magnetic poles is much faster than is the movement of tectonic plates. The airport where I learned to fly in the 1960’s used to have runway 22 and 4 (same runway in opposite directions) and now it has runway 23 and 5 due to the movement of the magnetic poles. Runways are numbered according to their alignment with the magnetic poles, but GPS devices use true coordinates rather than magnetic coordinates so I don’t think the movement of the magnetic poles has any bearing on this issue.

It hadn’t occurred to me to be concerned about the movement of tectonic plates. It seems like it’s slow enough that I shouldn’t have to worry about it. But in any case the GPS coordinates I get from my hand held GPS device are timestamped. I don’t include the timestamp in my reports, but the timestamp is recorded in my citations.

My device is a Garmin Etrex 20. It’s quite old now, but still works very well for recording GPS coordinates for burial sites and transferring the data into my computer and thence on into RM. It has no Internet capability and instead it has onboard maps. It’s designed to be used in areas where there is no Internet coverage. That’s why the maps are onboard. But GPS coverage is everywhere. The maps didn’t come with the device but instead were an add-on. But having added them on, I don’t have to preload maps before I go out into the mountains or to a cemetery.