Populating Location Data for the Outlook Places Service

How Outlook Clients Use the Places Service to Display Location Information

Updated January 2020.

Exchange Online has a new service called Outlook Places that’s designed to help users find meeting locations, notably with room mailboxes. A new “suggested calendar locations” feature (Office 365 notification MC187963, roadmap 20974) makes use of the location data to suggest meeting locations for new events. The data is also used in the OWA room card as described on Dec 20, 2019 in MC198678, roadmap 59430.

Populating Places

To make sure that the Outlook Places service works well, you should update room mailboxes with metadata that the service can consume and present to users. Currently, clients search for meeting locations using room mailbox names and room lists (Outlook desktop) together with suggested locations based on what the user enters in the Location field. Outlook creates suggested locations using the Bing Locations API.

Because room names are common across all clients, it’s best to make sure that the name assigned to a room helps users understand where it is located. You can supplement the information by updating the Places entry for a room with information like a label, building, floor number, and geocoordinates.

Updating Place Information for Room Mailboxes

The Set-Place cmdlet updates the location metadata for a room mailbox. For example:

# Set the location metadata for a room mailbox
Set-Place -Identity "San Francisco Room" -CountryOrRegion "United States" -City "San Francisco" -Floor 1 -Capacity 54 -Street "10 Sutter Street" -GeoCoordinates "37.790507; -122.400274" -Building "Western HQ" -State CA -PostalCode 94104 -Phone “+1 206 177 4151" -Label "Training" -VideoDeviceName "Crestron Flex UC-M150-T" -Tags Training, Development, Videoconference

Time-based assistants running in the background synchronize information for room mailboxes to the Places service. OWA fetches information from the Places service to display place information about locations in room cards (Figure 1).

How OWA displays location metadata in meeting details
Figure 1: How OWA displays location metadata in meeting details

Updating OWA Mailbox Policies

Note that OWA doesn’t display place information (like the map shown in Figure 1) if the PlacesEnabled setting in the OWA mailbox policy assigned to user mailboxes is set to $False. This might be the case if you have multiple policies as Microsoft only automatically updated the default OWA mailbox policy for tenants to set PlacesEnabled to $True. When PlacesEnabled is set to $False, OWA doesn’t display the extended place information in the room card and limits the information to whatever’s defined for the room mailbox.

To make sure that users can access the information you populate for places, update OWA mailbox policies as follows:

# Update all OWA mailbox policies in a tenant to allow use of Place information by OWA
Get-OWAMailboxPolicy | ? {$_.PlacesEnabled -eq $False} | Set-OWAMailboxPolicy -PlacesEnabled $True 

Finding Place Information

The Get-Place cmdlet returns details of room mailboxes and their location metadata.

Get-Mailbox -RecipientTypeDetails RoomMailbox | Get-Place

Identity             DisplayName          Building   Floor Type      IsManaged  BookingType
--------             -----------          --------   ----- ----      ---------  -----------
Room101@office365... Room 101                              Room      True       Standard
Room104@office365... Room 104             HQ         1     Room      False      Standard
Room102@office365... Room 102                              Room      False      Standard
Room103@office365... Room 103                              Room      False      Standard
LasVegasConferenc... Las Vegas Confere...                  Room      True       Standard
SFRoom101@office365..San Francisco Room  Western HQ  1     Room      True       Standard

Finding GeoCoordinates for Locations

You’ll notice that the geocoordinates for the location are included in the metadata for a room mailbox. Outlook uses geocoordinates to retrieve map information to help users find the building where a room is located. The easiest way to find the geoordinates for a building is to search for the place with Google Maps, click What’s Here to reveal details of the map point, and then click the coordinates. Google Maps then displays the detail in a pane (Figure 2). Replace the comma in the coordinates with a semi-colon to make the data suitable for input to Set-Place.

Finding Geocoordinates in Google Maps
Figure 2: Finding Geocoordinates in Google Maps

Client Use of Geocoordinates

At present, OWA and Outlook mobile are the only clients to use the geocoordinates for rooms. OWA displays maps when scheduling new meetings or displaying meeting information (Figure 1) together with a Directions link. Clicking the link feeds the longitude and latitude information in the room geocoordinates to the Bing Locations API to find and display directions to the room with Bing Maps. You can’t configure OWA to use a different maps provider.

Outlook Mobile displays map information when scheduling a new meeting (Figure 3) but doesn’t when viewing meetings in the calendar.

Outlook Mobile (for iOS) displays map information when scheduling a new meeting
Figure 3: Outlook Mobile (for iOS) displays place information when scheduling a new meeting

For more information about room mailboxes, read the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook.

19 Replies to “Populating Location Data for the Outlook Places Service”

  1. Hi Tony, do you have any pointers on the “IsManaged” and “BookingType” properties. Both are null for me on all of my resource mailboxes.

      1. According to Microsoft:
        IsManaged means the room is managed by a delegate. This can only be set to True if the ResourceDelegate property has a smtp address.
        BookingType can be standard or managed. Standard means it can be booked as normal while managed means the request must be approved by a delegate.

  2. Hi Tony, if you pipe Get-Place to a Format-List, there’s a property called ‘Tags.’ Any insight on the purpose of this property or where it might surface for end users? I see it included in the documentation on the cmdlets, but not finding any information on what it’s for. Thanks!

    1. Tags are for descriptive terms that you want to associate with a place, like “Amazing Views”

      1. Thanks for the response! I suspected as much based on the documentation, but I am not seeing where this information surfaces for users. I set a couple of tags on a place, but I don’t see it on the card. Have you seen this work?

      2. I have,. I believe they are surfaced when someone views an appointment that has a location specified in OWA. Try it.

  3. Hi Tony,
    thanks for the amazing overview. I was interested in the room features. Unfortunately i wasn’t able go get any information about this. Is this an Exchange Online feature or is this something that works on Exchange 2016 too?
    Thanks in advance!

      1. Hi Tony, we already use the room mailboxes. But i was interested in the features of the very first screenshot where PolyCom, InFocus WXGA Projector and Samsung Monitor is displayed. This is a huge benefit if a new colleagues joins the company and is unsure which meeting room to choose.
        Thanks so much for this article by the way!

      2. Keep an eye on this space. I suspect that the Outlook folks will improve and refine the Places service over the next few months.

      3. And BTW, the properties of the conference room illustrated in the screenshot include:

        AudioDeviceName : PolyCom
        VideoDeviceName : InFocus WXGA Projector
        DisplayDeviceName : Samsung OLED 55″

  4. I we’d like to add amenities like Whiteboards, should we use this in combination with Set-ResourceConfig -ResourcePropertySchema “Room/Whiteboard”? How will it work together and show up for the end user?

    1. That resource schema is for room mailboxes. I am not sure that it carries forward to the Place service. But give it a try…

  5. Tony thanks for the information. A question, an issue i’m seeing is that the suggestions of a room contains incorrect capacity amount. But when i do a get-place for that room it shows the correct place. Also if i don’t use suggestions and just click on rooms it also shows the right amount 😐

  6. Going down the road for Exchange Online, do you think they will stop using the good old Room Lists and move to using just attributes set by Set-Place instead? At least once all the clients actually use the Set-Place attributes. Although I guess we will only see Set-Place for cloud 🙂

    1. Too much speculation… Ask the question to the engineers at the Virtual Ignite conference!

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