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Cemetery mapping services: Moving into the digital age

We are living in age of digitalization, and things around us are increasingly dominated by technology. The world has changed. We work from home, attend school from home, shop from home, and stream movies at home.  Online activities have increased in quantity and popularity.  People are becoming increasingly comfortable online.

Consumer preferences and behaviors are driving the need for a change in the funeral industry. People are increasingly more comfortable with tech, and this is a driver for their expectations of death care services. Therefore, cemeteries need to embrace technology and new service options in the face of current economic realities.

Comprehensive cemetery mapping services are key component of bringing your cemetery into the digital age.  At a minimum, these services should include GPR cemetery mapping, GPS data collection, and a GIS cemetery mapping platform.

What is GPR cemetery mapping

Ground penetrating radar or GPR cemetery mapping provides the foundation for understanding the current state of the burial grounds.  GPR is the industry-recognized technology, non-destructive method that identifies subsurface features, without drilling, probing, or digging. The GPR transmitter and antenna emit high-frequency pulses of radio waves into the ground. The transmitted energy is reflected from buried objects or distinct contacts between different earth materials. The antenna then receives the reflected waves and the resulting soil profile is displayed as bands by the digital control unit.  GPR cemetery mapping helps with cemetery exploration and grave locating that provides critical information for creating an accurate burial plot map and planning for the cemetery’s future.

What is GPS cemetery mapping

GPS cemetery mapping makes use of the Global Positioning System to inventory and navigate the cemetery with the help of signals emanating from an array of satellites.  The Global Positioning System is a non-destructive and safe system that is used by many industries for numerous purposes.

GPS cemetery mapping utilizes high-accuracy GPS data collection equipment to record the precise location of burials and relevant cemetery features to create a reliable cemetery plot map.  When creating a cemetery plot map it is critically important to have an accurate understanding of the exact placement of each grave and cemetery feature. Use of GPS data collection devices enables generating the necessary data for creating cemetery plot maps.

What is a GIS cemetery mapping platform

A geographic information system (GIS) is a cemetery mapping framework for gathering, managing, and analyzing data that is referenced to locations on the earth.  The data set includes tabular attribute data that provides additional details about individual spatial features.  The cemetery mapping process combines GPS data, attribute information, and images to create a dynamic burial plot map.  The GIS cemetery mapping platform can be made searchable by name of deceased, can include locations of marked/unmarked burials and cemetery landmarks, as well as images of individual headstones.

What are the benefits of having digital cemetery mapping services

Papers getting lost on desks. Updates being overlooked. Mistakes made due to poor handwriting. All are unacceptable in the cemetery business. And yet, unfortunately, they can happen.  Reducing those errors, however, is possible by using technology. Implementing digital transformation tools for your cemetery could be a dream come true for those responsible and for the local community.

Here are some of key benefits of the digital cemetery mapping revolution in the industry and why it is considered to be an important tool for managing cemeteries now and in the future.

1. Easy navigation:

Among many other advantages of digital cemetery mapping services, one among them is the ability to mark the places where loved ones are buried. You are able to navigate, detect and mark the places with the use of simple mobile phones or other digital devices that are equipped with the internet.

No matter if you are around the area of the cemetery or located in a different country, with the implementation of GIS cemetery mapping platform, you would be able to look up the deceased and required destination with the tap of your fingers.

2. Useful for the business and financial sustainability of cemetery:

It is not only beneficial for the people of those who have buried their loved ones in the cemetery, but also for those who are responsible for caring for the cemetery.  With the help of digital cemetery mapping services, cemetery managers are able to assess the inventory of burial space, current ownership status, potential availability of additional burial plots, and more.  A digital cemetery mapping platform provides the information needed to improve day-to-day cemetery operations and also to plan for a successful future.

3.  Cemetery preservation and improving value of cemetery to the community:

While cemeteries are solemn and peaceful locations that are often filled with memories, they are also historic sites that have artistic monuments, beautifully landscaped properties, and ancient tombs. There are stories to be told within the rows of stones, and accurate digital cemetery mapping helps tell those tales.  Since cemetery tourism is becoming increasingly popular, it is important to ensure that significant burial sites are marked and easy to find.  Digital cemetery mapping can support and even encourage walking tours and cemetery tourism by taking away the difficult process of locating graves, both before arriving on-site as well as once a tourist has entered the cemetery.  Cemeteries can host events and provide opportunities for tourists to enjoy their grounds which provides fund-raising opportunities for the cemetery. They can offer remembrance events, structured walking tours, or individual and private tours of a well-mapped cemetery without the concern and struggle of researching a grave’s location.

In addition, a current and dynamic digital cemetery mapping platform can identify those headstones that are deteriorating and help to prioritize headstone restoration needs throughout the cemetery.

4.  Optimize space utilization:

A digital cemetery mapping platform can blend pertinent information from available cemetery records (historic maps and drawings, burial logs and lists, plot sales inventories, etc.) and/or knowledge of the cemetery community and stakeholders with the as-built data from GPR cemetery mapping and GPS data collection and photos recorded during field collection. Open spaces can be evaluated for availability of additional grave plots, and potentially available plots can be added to the digital cemetery mapping platform.

5. Time savings:

No matter how robust your cemetery’s organization system is, digging through large quantities of documents can take hours. Not only does this arduous process interfere with cemetery managers’ ability to promptly answer inquiries, it’s also an inefficient use of time. With a digital cemetery mapping platform, cemetery managers can quickly search for the needed information, freeing up time to tackle other important cemetery business.

When it comes down to it, most cemetery managers want to do everything they can to serve their communities. The best digital cemetery mapping solutions allow cemeteries to easily and rapidly share burial records with the public. This feature helps community members seeking information about loved ones as well as genealogists undertaking historical research.

Summing It Up

While many cemeteries have successfully used manual processes and have relied extensively on paper records, the times are changing. To attract sales, keep in touch with the families you serve, gain efficiency, and position your cemetery for the future, adopting digital cemetery mapping is crucial.

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