‘What’s New?’ for Stake Technology Specialist

Last Updated: 15 May 2020 at 09:15

April 2020

Dear Technology Specialist, 

Technology is changing quickly, and the meetinghouse technology team would like to use a regular ‘What’s New’ article to keep you up to date on what the Church is doing with meetinghouse technologies.  We hope this update will enable you to prepare more effectively for these changes.   

Video Conferencing and Virtual Meetings

The ready availability of audio and video conferencing solutions allows local ecclesiastical leaders to conduct virtual meetings with councils or members while avoiding an increase to technology costs for the Church. Local leaders are encouraged to use a free, reputable solution that works best in their area. Some possible options may include:

  • Google Hangouts or Google Hangouts Meet
  • Zoom
  • Webex
  • WhatsApp
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Skype

These solutions should be adequate to meet most virtual meeting needs. When these tools are unfamiliar, it is recommended that leaders test their preferred solution before hosting actual meetings.

Consider the following when selecting and using virtual meeting technologies:

  • Understand time and participant limits of your selected platform 
  • Use good lighting for a better video conference experience
  • Minimize background noise and other potential distractions
  • Encourage everyone to mute their microphones when not speaking
  • Be sensitive to confidential information and avoid recording meetings

If a leader has an account with a video conferencing platform from their employment, they should ensure they have their employer‘s approval prior to using that platform for Church purposes. Be aware that employer administrators may have access to personal meetings. In all cases, leaders should consider data privacy. Please share this information with the leaders in your wards and stake.

Network 

  1. AP Scheduler – we have released a beta wireless scheduling tool in TM.  This feature allows local leaders to determine when to allow the wireless network to be available in their meetinghouses.  This feature will enable local leaders to reduce the amount of bandwidth used for non-church purposes. 
  2. AP Status – the status of APs is now available in Technology Manager, TM, for meetinghouses with Meraki APs deployed.  It is recommended STSs confirm all their APs are shown in TM and the operating status is “active”.  Additionally, Meraki APs will show the IP address associated to each AP.  STSs should confirm all their APs have a 192.xx.xx.xx IP address, if they have a 10.xx.xx.xx they are connected to the wrong port on the firewall and need to be connected to port 1 or 2 of the firewall or a switch coming off those ports. 
  3. Wireless Performance – If the wireless network performance at a meetinghouse is struggling, we recommend STSs review the article on MHTech.churchofjesuschrist.org called “Wireless Best Practices” - https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/help/support/wireless-best-practices?lang=eng.  This article enables you to confirm that your APs are installed properly.  If the APs are not installed properly, or there are insufficient APs in the building, we encourage STSs to work with the FM to resolve the issues. 
  4. SSID Change February 14, 2020 – At this time the SSID will change from “LDSAccess” to “Liahona”.  The password will change from “pioneer47” to “Alma3738”.  This will be a onetime change for each person using the new SSID.  After logging onto the Liahona SSID, there will be a splash page that explains proper use of the Church SSID within Church units.    
  5. Splash Page with new SSID – In our study with the Meraki firewall network, we’ve found that up to 30% of the meetinghouse network bandwidth is used when members come to Sunday meetings with their smart devices set to automatically connect to the church WiFi, and have set their Apps Store or Play Store apps to automatically update their apps.   By creating a splash page similar to those found in restaurants or airports, you will be able to block hundreds of smart phones from unknowingly using the network to download megabytes of data.  The splash page requires individuals to make a mindful choice when they want to use the network. 

Webcast 

  1. Role of Network Health on Webcasting – Over the past few years, webcasting has become a much more reliable solution for transmitting video of stake conference across the internet to buildings across the stake.  For those who continue to have problems with webcasting, it is important to take a hard look at the health of the meetinghouse Internet.  Please take the time to learn more about networking and how to maximize the internet bandwidth available to improve webcast performance.  The following article describes how to maximize internet bandwidth.
  2. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/help/support/webcast-network-health-encoder-settings?lang=eng
  3. Webcast 3.0 – In July 2019, a new release of the Webcast solution was released.  This new release is designed to make setting up webcasting for stake conferences simpler, more reliable in low bandwidth environments, and more consistent in its performance.  If you haven’t already tested the new release in your stake, please read about it in mhtech.churchofjesuschrist.org. 
  4. New Streaming Box Called MiBox - To improve the performance of Webcasting, MiBox has been tested and approved to receive the output of the Teradek box consistently.  These boxes will replace the computer or laptop which is used in each building to receive the webcast signal off the internet.  By using the new MiBox streaming box, we will remove one additional point of failure.  The announcement of how to get your new streaming boxes will come out in January 2020.  Instruction for use will also be available. 
  5. Webcast Solution- effective at the end of the year 2019, portal.ldswebcast.org stopped redirecting to webcast.churchofjesuschrist.org. Please make sure that you are using webcast.churchofjesuschrist.org.