Populating Locations for the Outlook Places Service

Exchange Online includes 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.

To make sure that Outlook Places work well, you should update room mailboxes with metadata that the service can consume and present to users. Currently, clients search for meeting locations as follows:

  • OWA: room name and city (if populated with the Set-Place cmdlet). OWA is the only client to currently use the metadata available in the Places service.
  • Outlook desktop: room lists and the “All rooms” address list.
  • Outlook mobile: room names.

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. In the future, some rationalization is likely in client behavior to use a common approach and make better use of the metadata available to the Places service.

The Set-Place and Get-Place Cmdlets

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

To futureproof matters, populate as much metadata for rooms as possible on the basis that if it’s not used now, it will be in the future. It can take up to a day before the metadata is available for OWA to use to resolve locations for new meetings (Figure 1).

Using location metadata when scheduling a meeting in OWA
Figure 1: Using location metadata when scheduling a meeting in OWA

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

Finding GeoCoordinates for Locations

You’ll notice that the geocoordinates for the location are included in the metadata for a room mailbox. Presumably this is to allow users to view a map in the future to find the building where a room is located. The easiest way to find the geoordinates for a building is to find 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

OWA is the only client to use geocoordinates currently. If you look at Figure 1, you’ll see a Directions link in the information OWA displays about a location. If you click the link, OWA uses the longitude and latitude information in the geocoordinates with the Bing Locations API to find and display the location with Bing Maps. You can’t configure OWA to use a different maps provider.

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


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