Tech Volunteers Building the Kingdom

  • 17 May 2011

Article Highlights

  • Volunteers with technological skills are meeting each month as they contribute to projects.
  • An annual technology conference brings volunteers together.
  • A new licensing agreement is in the works that will allow developers to use Church content.

“[These projects] are a way for the technological community to step in and connect with the ongoing advancement of the Church, hone their skills, and consecrate their time and talents.” —John Edwards, director of emerging technology for the Church.

Church members often look for ways to use their talents to help the Church. Technologically-minded members are no different. Over the past year, a growing number of volunteers have participated in conferences and ongoing projects to lend their expertise to the work of the Church.

Four hundred volunteers from around the world came together in Riverton, Utah, USA, on March 31 and April 1 for the annual LDSTech Conference.

The volunteers, up 250 from last year, worked on 26 technological projects for the Church during the conference.

“[These projects] are a way for the technological community to step in and connect with the ongoing advancement of the Church, hone their skills, and consecrate their time and talents,” said John Edwards, director of emerging technology for the Church. “The LDSTech conference is [a place] for those with technological skills to come and give back.”

Projects met technological needs for programs such as Mormon Channel, Scripture Mastery, LDS Tools, and the gospel library.

The Conference began in 2010 as a way to gather Church members with technological skills to work on projects for the Church, to discuss upcoming projects, and, starting this year, to celebrate the achievements of the previous year.

During the conference this year, volunteers completed a mobile app called the “Water Project.” The app allows missionaries who inspect the Church’s water rights around the world to easily send back coordinates, pictures, and information about water sources to Church headquarters from places that would be hard to locate by address or other means. The Water Project app is available free of charge in the Apple Store online.

Also announced at the conference was a new licensing agreement for developers who are not Church employees but who wish to use official Church content in their projects. The agreement will allow developers working on commercial products for mobile phones or other platforms to have access to and use official Church content in an authorized manner, Brother Edwards said.

“We would like developers who would like to use the content to come through the appropriate channel to gain the legal right to do so,” Brother Edwards said. “Individuals want the right to use our versions of the scriptures or manuals for their apps. This allows them to sign the appropriate license and agreements for electronic access to that content.”

A beta program for the new agreement is set to be available in September 2011, with full use in 2012.

Those interested in contributing their technological skills to Church projects can participate by creating a profile on tech.lds.org and joining projects that interest them. Additionally, on the first Friday of every month volunteers can reconvene by teleconference, videoconference, or in the Riverton Office Building (3740 W. 13400 S., Riverton, Utah, USA) to continue the work from the LDSTech conference. Monthly meetings will be announced and information posted on tech.lds.org, and teams will receive information from their team leaders.

“It’s an opportunity for them to come back, stay connected, and continue to advance the work,” Brother Edwards said.  “They can come and help us with these projects and deliver solutions for the Church worldwide.”