Cemetery Revolutions – How Natural Burial in Australia Can Realign Perception

Eco-friendly alternatives to traditional burial are becoming increasingly popular today. Previously, we’ve discussed the environmental and health impacts of traditional burial which tends to involve embalming and the use of caskets. As we’ve outlined, cremation is resource-intensive and high in pollutants  For many, the question of whether this is sustainable practice moving forward, as climate change gathers momentum, is moving many towards considering green burial options. Opting for green embalming or to be buried in a simple shroud is just one piece of the puzzle. Green burial, as a concept, may just change the way we think of cemeteries altogether, driving a move to reinvent the use of burial space.a

Cemetery design has remained stagnant for a long time, especially in Australia and “the West”. Some may see the current design of cemeteries to be the only way of burying, the only mechanism of remembering the dead. This may apply both to burial and storing the remains of ashes, but perhaps it isn’t the design of cemeteries that has remained stagnant – our perspectives and collective mindset has remained languid. It may be that it’s because we view the dead as placid, unmoving, and motionless, that we’ve allowed our perspective towards the issue to mirror what we believe their state to be.

Stepping Stones in Redesign – Alternatives to Memorialisation

Yet, we’re currently amongst the living with responsibilities to the earth and the land on which we live, with which we interact, and with which we depend. Those who share our thoughts come with innovative, ground-breaking ideas of their own, like David Neustein of Other Architects and Kevin Hartley (Founder and CEO of Earth Funerals, leading the way for natural burial in Australia) believe that it’s part of our responsibility, in the industry, to view cemetery design as dynamic and sustainable. Those may be buzzwords for our time, but they’re highly relevant to changing expectations in a contemporary world dealing with alarming rates of climate change and shortage of burial spaces in urban areas, even before the current pandemic.

Other Architecs Burial Belt Project (http://otherarchitects.com/other-spaces#/burial-belt/)

Perspective is key, and according to Neustein, a shift towards viewing burial space as open space instead of dead land (we’re unsure if that pun was intended) is necessary. It would mean that we need to start considering the transition of cemeteries and ash memorialisation spaces towards a meaningful experience rather than a transactional one.

What does this mean for cemetery design? For Neustein and his team at Other Architects, the notion of time is intricately interwoven with reconceptualisation of how we see cemeteries. For Other Architects, it’s not simply about a green cemetery or a natural burial ground, but more about a new focus on contemporary issues and interests which also considers traditional design elements. In a cemetery landscape, tradition feels comforting for many. Tradition is inextricable from legacy for many, so how do the changing aspects of concern in society today – one where green burials are becoming an increasingly popular choice – come together with longstanding tradition? Neustein, like Chronicle, believes that this can be done by using the latest in technology as a tool for digital design strategies.

Let’s look at how these ideas can be used to theorise and develop possible solutions for current issues in the cemetery industry. Other Architects recently engaged with Northern Metropolitan Cemeteries of Sydney to address concerns that many have voiced to the institution. Ash memorialisation in cemeteries, currently, is felt to be monotonous and devoid of individual agency when interred in a letterbox or car park design. According to Neustein, it’s evident from the statistics – only 22% who opted for cremation chose for their ashes to remain in a cemetery setting. How, then, should people memorialise their lost loved ones? Is there anything else?

Digital and Traditional – Natural Burial in Australia Engaging with Time

While, admittedly, this discussion deals with the remains from cremation, it does offer a vantage point from which to look at cemetery design with green burial options in mind. Other Architects were blessed with an open brief – a blessing to some, a curse to others. For Neustein and his team, these briefs tend to fall under the former category. It wasn’t the space that was conceptualised differently – the team thought of memorialising differently. By reimagining ash memorialising in terms of the use of landscape clusters incorporating furniture and plants, interacting with the dead became less formal an affair, a more organic process. By using a suite of different memorial types that were lightweight but could also be anchored, relocation of these markers would be possible. This type of setting could resemble a crowd scene rather than the structured, letterbox format. It means that the bereaved would feel confident that their interred loved ones had their own space rather than becoming a number in a predetermined system.

What does this tell us about how to view the future of cemeteries? For one, we learn that we don’t necessarily need to retain memorialisation spaces in such a way that visitors are “able to see the system”, as Neustein puts it. By using a computational approach, where each memorial is tagged and located in space, it produces a record of its location, one which can be retrieved. This is analogous to what we do at Chronicle and is something that we can replicate or adapt in other settings; options for natural burial in Australia, for one.

When engaging with time as a medium, Other Architects showcase how this could be done with their finalist design bid for a 128 hectare greenfield site, which is the largest cemetery development in Victoria for 100 years. Other Architects were tasked with creating a design that meets projections of demand for traditional burial spaces but one that also allows for the flexibility and change in the future. This, in a nutshell, is how time-based design could be explained and is very relevant to changing attitudes towards burial with the rise of green embalming and green burial options.

From Rigid to Flowing

Again, the idea of an organic landscape is employed here. Neustein describes how an adaptable grave zone that efficiently houses a certain region of burial plots is the mode of delivery. Each zone, in turn, comes together to create a larger, more natural landscape. Design remaining dynamic over time is a priority, as they’d use a framework that can shift with time and demand. As opposed to planning an entire, massive cemetery in advance, the number of burial spaces and landscape area can adapt. Certainly, this would mean moving away from a traditional, fixed grid that many have become so used to, in favour of a framework that can evolve.

It’s this goal of prioritising less resource-intensive options of interment that leads to what may be Australia’s grandest speculative green cemetery idea to date – the Burial Belt. With the increasing scarcity of dependable land within Australia’s cities, there’s now an urgent shortage of burial space. Simultaneously, Australian cities are suffering from vegetation being stripped away at their edges due to land clearing. At its core, the Burial Belt seeks to address both these issues by providing replacement land by offering huge forests that double as burial spaces.

Earth Funerals x Other Architects – Theory Becomes Practical

https://earthfunerals.org/
http://otherarchitects.com/

As the forest moves over time, clearing in some areas and filling others, burial spaces will be evident at first but reclaimed by nature later. What is a natural burial? This may just be it in its most organic form. But how does this manifest practically?

Other Architects’ concepts become practical reality when Neustein meets Hartley of Earth Funerals – a meeting that both agree was serendipitous. At Bendoc Cemetery in Victoria, Australia, Hartley and Neustein worked together to design and create a functioning natural burial ground. As opposed to the rigid grid format, grave sites were winding and twisting to line the clearing of trees to create a walk through woodland. Currently, graves are placed next to clearly identifiable markers found in the landscape. Hartley believes that Bendoc Cemetery is, conceptually, something of a microcosm of Other Architect’s Burial belt. The natural burial graves, currently being mapped by the Chronicle team, represents a latency in time. There’s more space for burial as the forest moves with time, recycling space as the years pass.

For Hartley, moving towards dedicated green cemeteries is the ideal, with natural burial sections in cemeteries the “least worst option”. As it would still operate within a traditional cemetery ground framework, green burial sections would be constrained in the way they address both  human and environmental needs. Instead, moving towards dedicated natural burial grounds where manicured lawns are done away with, in favour of endemic grasses is part of the end goal. Hartley believes that a preference is growing in Australian communities towards these ‘whole of system’ ideas.

The Revolution Will Be Digitised

The revolution in cemetery design depends on the latest technology in order to map plots and spaces. Accurately mapping these spaces using digital means is essential as finding the resting place of a loved one is priority for the bereaved. Without digital mapping, questions about green burial cost or green funeral options would fall to the wayside if no compromise between traditional elements and evolving aspects of concern is reached. As we move towards freer arrangement patterns in the cemetery space as natural burial in Australia becomes a force for environmental improvement, we’re working on the solutions. Learn all you need to know about digital mapping for your cemetery with the best of our digital cemetery experts.

Within the Green Burial – A Natural Way Back to Earth

Within the Green Burial – A Natural Way Back to Earth

Unless science or some other form of modern-day magic can stop death in its tracks, we’re all going to return to the earth, the spirit world, or the endless void – however you want to look at it. Death’s coming for us all, so how do we put this mortal flesh-and-bone machine of ours to rest?

Admittedly, this started out a little morbidly but hey, you are here to read about burial after all, aren’t you? We’ve ascertained that death is inevitable, but there’s no one way to lay our bodies to rest once we’re gone. If you’re in the West, the traditional idea of a funeral and subsequent burial goes a little something like this: your loved ones and friends gather at the social congregation that is your wake, where your body lies in a casket, dressed in your best with a peaceful countenance made to look like you’re asleep by a skilled mortician who also embalms you so that decomposition is kept at bay. Words are said, tears are shed, and then it all moves to the cemetery where you and your casket are lowered into a 6-foot hole in the ground and then covered up by earth.

On the other hand, you might also opt for a cremation. Here, your mortal body is transformed into ash to be kept by your loved ones or have them scatter those remains or inter them in a meaningful place.

Let’s look at a few key points here. We’ve mentioned a casket, embalming, and ashes. There’s a whole lot that can be unpacked here, so let’s move onto how these play a part (or don’t play a part) in what makes a green burial.

In a Nutshell – What Is a Green Burial?

In many ways, we’ve come full circle as a civilisation. The last few years, in particular, have served to wake us up to how we’re progressively ruining the environment through industry and personal choices. There are many of us out here trying to turn things around and shift perspectives in the hopes of alleviating the stress that humanity has been putting on the environment for a long time.

Natural burials are one way that we’re doing this. As a society, we’ve come to realise that we need to return to the earth, in the most literal way possible, with as little excess as possible. Simplicity and minimalism are the key here, so the green burial movement is a way for us to minimise our carbon footprint – even in death.

Green burials are a way to minimise the resources necessary for both the care of the body after death and in its interment. With natural burial, the aim is to leave the world with as little (or nothing) extraneous done or applied to your body before returning to the earth. This also applies to the vessel you’ll be buried in – a natural burial may use no casket or coffin at all, instead opting to be buried in a simple shroud. Of course, your family will end up saving on funeral costs, too – in most cases.

There and Back Again – Of Coffins, Caskets, and Shrouds

Reading the above, you might be on two sides of a proverbial fence. Either, you’re thinking “but we’re just throwing tradition out of the window” or “none of this is new; we’ve always been doing this in my culture/religion.”

If you’re in the second camp, this is true. Listing all the religious or cultural traditions that have been practicing natural burial all this time would be impractical, but we can tell you that traditional Muslim and Jewish customs have been burying their dead this way all this time. In the traditions of both religions, the body is washed – but not embalmed – after death, before being dressed in a plain burial shroud and then buried in the ground. In some areas, especially in cities, you might find that the enshrouded body is carried in a wooden or metal casket of sorts into and out of a hearse to the graveyard. While this does occur, the deceased is almost always buried simply in a shroud if religious traditions are practiced.

If you’re in the first camp and find that green funerals are just a way to rail against tradition, many might remind you that it’s only really been in the last two centuries or so that this tradition has been practiced. For most of human history, the funeral process has been more closely linked to nature, without the use of chemicals and other environmentally harmful materials seeping into the ground.

It’s just that lately, we’re really beginning to see the issues that “traditional” burial methods have had on our environment. Projects like the Burial Belt by Other Architects and Earth Funerals in Australia are trying to create awareness around the environmental impact, logistics, and experience of the way we bury. Ultimately, there’s an increasing need to respect and restore the environment, coupled with a spiritual desire to reconnect with the earth at the heart of green funerals.

Weighing It Up – Why Go Green?

Those key points we’ve told you to keep in mind earlier on? Those are some of the most significant elements that this type of burial is trying to minimise both in principle and practice.

Let’s take a look at caskets and coffins for a minute. We’ve become accustomed to commercially-produced caskets, but we often don’t realise that they’re treated chemically with paint or veneer and contain metal parts – all of which gets buried into the earth’s precious soil. In the United States, for example, the funeral industry buries about 15 million litres of embalming fluid, 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete, 64,500 tons of steel, and 17,000 tons of copper and bronze into the ground with the deceased – every year. And with every cremation, the energy equivalent of 40 litres of petrol is spent, while also emitting other pollutants like dioxin and mercury into the atmosphere.

The embalming fluid that we’ve mentioned is harmful enough since formaldehyde and other embalming chemicals seep slowly into the earth. Of course, this happens over a really long time, constantly polluting as the fluid drastically delays the time your body takes to decompose. While keeping the environment free of pollutants is a major concern for the natural burial movement, the move to prohibit embalming also served to protect the health of funeral home workers. Those embalming fluids might prolong the decomposition of the dead, but the formaldehyde inside is a proven carcinogen with adverse effects on those who are exposed to them regularly.

Ways to Go – Your Natural Funeral Options

The coffins and caskets that we’ve become used to make up about half the cost of every funeral. You’re not obliged to be buried in these as you do have the option of using coffins made of sustainably-harvested wood or to simply use an organic, biodegradable cotton shroud. Remember, in most places, funeral homes are required to accept what you, the customer, provides. And when it comes to embalming, this is almost always done away with. In the case that you would want to be embalmed, green embalming is an option. Instead of formaldehyde, environmentally-friendly essential oils can be used to preserve the body for a few weeks or so,

while dry ice or a refrigeration unit is suggested while transporting the body. Fundamentally, the point of the movement is for the body to decompose naturally.

An awareness of green practices in the funeral industry in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and other parts of the world is growing. With this, comes numerous green funeral options, including green cemeteries or hybrid cemeteries. Hybrid cemeteries, like Bendoc Cemetery in Victoria, Australia, reserve space for both traditional burials and natural burials as perspectives towards returning to the earth begin to shift.

Where Conservation Burial and the Digital Realm Converge

If you do wish to depart to return to the earth in more than just a shroud, Earth Funerals has moved away from traditional coffins to eco-pods – just 9kgs of handcrafted wicker without the use of any paint, veneer, or lacquer that would usually just harm the soil. Earth Funerals emphasises carbon positive burials by contributing to the restoration of acres of wildlife corridors and funding of native greenery with each funeral. 

You’ll find that conservation burials like this are moving further and further away from large, elaborate headstones, choosing instead to survey the site and use a set of GPS coordinates to mark and locate the grave site. Cemetery mapping faces new possibilities – or challenges, perhaps – with restorative natural burial grounds, but our digital platforms have already taken up the task of online memorialisation in the green funeral space.

As notions of how our mortal vessels are laid to rest are evolving once again, or reverting to the ways of old, digital tech will still play a part in keeping legacies alive. As natural burial grounds become more popular, movements like these are beginning to rely more so on the technology of today to remember those who have passed. It’s all about balance. How do we visit our loved ones without headstones to mark their resting place? How do we connect with their memories? Learn all you need to know about digital mapping for your cemetery with the best of our digital cemetery experts!

How to Manage Cemetery Plot Template with Digital Platform

cemetery plot template | chronicle

How to Manage Cemetery Plot Template in Digital Platform

Whether you’re new to cemetery management or you’ve been in the game for as long as you can remember, managing your records and maps using a cemetery plot template can be the cause of a headache at times. You’ve reached a point where you know that digitising your cemetery is the best move that your institution can take – for you as an administrator, the cemetery trust, as well as for your community at large.

But before you fully digitise your cemetery, there are a few aspects to consider as you begin to consolidate your cemetery data – including both interment records and maps with plot layouts. Bringing all these together can take some time, so how do you start? Using free cemetery plot layout tools as a preliminary step in digitising your cemetery and its processes is a great way to begin. Let’s take you through the important necessary information that you need to know as you embark on this journey.

Data Management Requirements for Cemeteries in the Public Sector

As a cemetery, your organisation and its trust needs to ensure that you meet the requirements set by your particular municipality, state, or country. For example, cemeteries in the Australian state of Victoria must meet a number of requirements regarding how they handle and manage their records and data. In this case, the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC) stipulates some core criteria that public organisations must meet in terms of data protection and protective data security. In short, these requirements are all about data protection and are in the best interests of everyone, including cemetery trusts, the public, and the state government.

OVIC’s requirements are worth noting, since this follows a global trend in data protection for public organisations to follow. Similar requirements likely already exist in your cemetery’s locality or are likely in the process of being passed, so it would be wise to check up on them if you haven’t already. We’ll break down a few of the core requirements below – these are worth considering when looking at which free or paid tools you’d like to use as cemetery management software.  

Cemeteries must ensure that they maintain the following necessary levels of accuracy, availability, security, and safety in accordance with governing bodies like OVIC:

  • Accuracy: For management, it is essential that the interment records accurately reflect their respective cemetery plots, i.e. management must be able to accurately locate a particular physical interment by referring to the interment records.
  • Availability: Management must be able to provide public access to records.
  • Management must securely maintain physical records or digital computer systems that process and store information.
  • The cemetery management must understand the risk and inherent value that comes with the information that they manage on behalf of the community (including consequences of loss of records due to natural disasters, for example).
  • Management must validate who has access to what physical or digital systems and information therein.

These are only some of key requirements to meet according to OVIC’s Protective Data Security Plan (PDSP). With these in mind, let’s take a look at how you can design and manage your cemetery plot layout.

Before Cemetery Management Software – How to Design and Manage Cemetery Plot Template

You already know that designing and managing your cemetery plot layout can be a frustrating task – especially when you don’t know where – or how – to start. This can become even more difficult when you, as a cemetery manager, have inherited old maps and cemetery records (and with them, the inherited cemetery mapping problems) that have already passed through generations of administrators before you. This is particularly relevant if you’re tasked with the management of a fairly old cemetery, a cornerstone of your community.

Broadly speaking, there are two ways in which you can design your cemetery plot template and manage them:

Manually

This is the way that cemeteries have been managed for centuries. “Traditional” does not always equate to “worse”. For some, manually designing and managing cemetery plots, reconciling them with the relevant cemetery plot deed template, and being in possession of tangible documents from which to work is what they’re most comfortable with.

At times, it can also work very well. Designing and managing cemetery plots manually may afford a cemetery manager the liberty to draw plots and manage records the way they like. In this sense, manual designs and management may be non-restrictive – all that’s necessary is paper, simple drawing tools and writing implements and you’ve got all you need to design your cemetery. When it comes to historic cemetery plot templates, the manual method means that you’re able to create what you like and amend and annotate on the tangible material in front of you.

historic cemetery plot template | chronicle

However, the manual method is taxing and has shown to result in more than the occasional late night, particularly when preparing your cemetery maps to show a new client or to have readily available according to global and/or local data protection requirements. What happens when your cemetery design changes? Manual methods leave you mostly unable to make changes related to this issue. Another frustration is also that it can waste loads of time! Managing your cemetery requires zero error. Think about it – you’re dealing with (possibly) thousands of sensitive data entries on two fronts. This means that you’d require double the effort since you’re keeping your eye on both your paper ledger and the cemetery map. Inputting, checking, and maintaining accuracy this way has proven to eat away at time for many cemetery managers.

Thinking back to the beginning can be romantic – your cemetery map was likely drawn by a professional draughtsman or surveyor and it looked great! Yet, over the years, they moved from one manager to the next, gathering inconsistent annotations that made no sense to the manager who inherited the maps. Today, you’re left trying to decipher symbols and markings every time you need to refer to your map and records.

Digitally

Digital management of cemeteries has become increasingly popular – as is expected in the digital world of today. Cemetery managers are moving from manual methods of cemetery management to digital cemetery management software of some kind. Sometimes, digital methods of designing and managing plots are used in conjunction with manual methods. For many, managing cemeteries digitally ideally cuts down on the time spent to complete a task, so it all depends on what is achievable through digital means.

One of the biggest benefits that digital management affords are simpler ways of keeping track of cemetery records and maintaining their accuracy in relation to cemetery plot maps. By using digital tools, you’re able to do this using a cemetery plot template, for example. What this means is that information can also be shared far more easily, without additional steps that may be involved using the manual method. Using templates can drastically reduce organisational time and lead to more consistent record keeping. Ideally (we’re using this word again), digital means of record keeping and plot layout aids in managing a cemetery more comprehensively, without spending too much time trying to decipher handwriting and unfamiliar logic systems.

cemetery plot deed template | chronicle

Digitally designing and managing cemetery plots makes fulfilling the requirements of governing bodies easier to perform. It certainly takes less effort to maintain consistent, accurate records if you record data digitally, instead of manually. Also, records can more quickly be accessed on demand, while digital storage can be more resistant to risks like fires, water damage, and so on. Of course, this is true provided there are off-site backups of the data should a disaster occur.

Security of digital records and plot management are not always guaranteed. In light of the numerous data breaches occurring on databases globally, this becomes a significant concern. If you maintain your cemetery records and plots digitally, then, you’d have to ensure that the programmes and systems that you use, whether cloud-based or not, are sufficiently secure behind digital lock and key.

Most digital applications and programmes, however, are not designed to be used as dedicated cemetery management software. While the use of some programmes are more helpful than others, it’s fairly difficult to get a free cemetery plot template tool that has been developed solely with cemeteries in mind.

Pros and Cons of Different Cemetery Plot Design Tools

Whether you choose to work the traditional way or choose to manage your cemetery digitally, being aware of the various free templates to lay out cemetery plots is necessary. At this point, you’ve probably become acquainted with one or more of the following tools – manual and digital. We’ll break them down a little further to offer a more balanced look at both their benefits and drawbacks.

Paper

Easily the most ubiquitous of manual methods, pen(cil) and paper are undoubtedly handy. In terms of designing plots and being free in drawing them exactly how you want your cemetery layout to be represented, this has been the way to go for generations now.

While it may offer you some freedom, using paper leaves you with numerous documents to cross-reference after you retrieve them from their storage space. Through the years, the same paper records have seen scratchings and annotations made on top of each other, leading to maps and records which are difficult to understand. Paper, as we all know, is highly susceptible to being damaged or lost in the event of a natural disaster, resulting in the loss of critical community records if something were to happen.

Paper maps and records are also not easily shareable – a requirement in today’s world both for prospective clients and communities. Holding on to paper records for historical purposes is great, but moving these records and plot layouts over to a digital platform makes today’s requirements simpler to fulfill.

Excel

Excel is the first port of call for many who make the move from manual, paper records, to digital. Spreadsheets are superior to handwritten records, that’s for sure, but they’re not the best solution.

Excel was not designed to handle cemetery maps and match records to a cemetery plot layout. Yes, Excel files are shareable and a spreadsheet is highly useful in keeping cemetery records together in a logical manner. One of its major problems for your goals, however, is that it suffers from limited mapping and diagram functionality.

excel cemetery plot template | chronicle

Maintaining clear links between records and physical ground location is problematic, clumsy, and frustrating when using Excel. Let’s look at it from a more practical perspective. Reality and spreadsheet maps rarely correspond! The spreadsheet map is neat, featuring straight lines creating orderly grids, but the actual cemetery that it represents has rows that curve and plots with odd spacings between them. Individual plot widths vary, too. And when a new lot was created in your cemetery to squeeze in an individual next to their spouse? Spreadsheet maps don’t accurately communicate that either – even with those annotations you made.

This means that one of Excel’s major drawbacks is its inability to maintain accurate data. It’s useful in being a halfway house, if you will, between moving from manual records towards a dedicated cemetery software platform. Its functionality is useful in creating an Excel cemetery plot template to consolidate your records before making that move.

Excel can be used as a shareable document, but without cloud-based accessibility, your documents are not easily accessible if you’re away from your workstation. While an Excel cemetery plot template is free to use if you’ve got the software, its lack of security management and poor data quality means that you’d be better off looking at other solutions.

Miro

Miro is touted as one of the finest visual collaboration platforms out there to create, collaborate, and centralise your data across your organisation. Its free pricing plan offers only 3 editable boards, which could actually be fine to design and manage cemetery plot layouts. It also allows anonymous board viewers, catering for governing bodies’s requirements about availability of records. This cloud-based platform means that you can access it from anywhere there’s an internet connection, while you’ll also have that peace of mind knowing that they take digital security very seriously.

free template to lay out cemetery plot | miro | chronicle

Still, for cemetery plot layouts and records, we find that it’s better suited to internal processes but not that useful for the “finished product” in cemetery management if you’re looking to show potential clients available plots. Miro also doesn’t have any templates that you can use for cemetery plots – each cemetery is different, in any case. Stay tuned with this blog because we’re going to post a guide on how to create a cemetery plot map in Miro soon!

Google Maps

Cemetery managers are increasingly seeing the potential of Google Maps as a tool for cemetery plot layout, particularly due to the aerial images that are available. The custom map functionality allows you to include your own data as an overlay onto the aerial map on their platform. For this to be helpful, you would likely need a professional to create your digital plot map first so you can upload it. Alternatively, you could manually add a pin for each burial.

While custom Google Maps functionality is free, the man hours involved are incredible and the images available cannot accurately help you with plot layouts. Definitive plot outlines are difficult to make out, even if you zoom all the way in. It’s difficult to pinpoint an individual plot with this tool, and, while you’re able to label markers and make annotations on the map, this can become cluttered quickly.

It’s a secure and future-proof platform, according to Google, but it’s not much more than an interactive satellite photo .

QGIS

QGIS is a free, open source geographic information system that allows for cross-platform use. Primarily, this program is used to support viewing, editing, and analysis of geospatial data. Essentially, this is the kind of program you’d be looking for if you wanted to accurately map out your cemetery plot layout. While you may have the programme to work with, however, you’ll still need to capture high quality aerial images of your cemetery first.

The platform ticks the box of availability, as versions of your cemetery map can be made accessible to others, but make sure to have appropriate backups as QGIS is a user application. For adequate security, it would require that you encrypt your files – the programme doesn’t secure itself.

QGIS has a simple, user-friendly Graphical User Interface (GUI), but it is not beginner-friendly as you’d need a background in geospatial mapping to begin with. Even with the many online tutorials available, it can be time-consuming to learn.

transfer cemetery plot template | qgis | chronicle

First Steps Towards Consolidating Your Records & Using Excel Cemetery Plot Template Effectively

Having looked at the free tools available for you to use in designing and managing your cemetery plot layout, we find that an Excel spreadsheet is a great way to begin. As we’ve mentioned, none of the above free tools is able to seamlessly manage cemetery processes, but they are helpful. Follow these next steps to begin consolidating your digital records in Excel:

  • For a good set of data, always ensure that one row of data is different to the others: 1 row must contain 1 unique set of data. The same entries might appear in more than one column (property) – the ID column, typically. Check for duplicate data in this ID column, specifically. You can easily do this by following these steps:

    1. Select the column you want to check for duplicates.

    2. Click Home > Conditional Formatting > Highlight Cells Rules > Duplicate Values.

    3. In the box next to values with, pick the formatting you want to apply to the duplicate values, then click OK (this will allow you to highlight duplicate values).

    4. Now, all duplicate data in this column will be quickly apparent.

  • In keeping data rows different to each other, you can sometimes have the same name and section number. The differentiating property? Plot number.
    When working with a team of software experts, they’ll help to create the person ID, combining with it all properties of grave location (section, row, and plot number).

  • You cannot leave 2 types of information blank when consolidating cemetery records and data – grave locations and interment names. If some dates are missing, you can clarify this issue later.

  • Grave location properties consist of section number, rows, grave number, and status (occupied, vacant, or reserved). Usually, every field is not filled out – some of this data could have been lost to age.

  • Properties with interment names should be as follows: first name, middle name, surname.

  • If you notice that you’re missing data regarding date of birth, date of death, and interment date, don’t worry. What’s important is to have names that are in line with grave location, at the very least.


In ensuring that your records are accurate and compliant when tidying up your records on Excel, take note of the following:

  • Look out for different numbering formats in your properties/columns. What does it mean when some numbers have a dash or other random elements included? Is this just a typo or does it hold significance left by previous management? Should you revise the rest of the entries to match this format or should it be left unique?

  • Excel is designed mainly for computations of large numbers, so you’ll find that maintaining data integrity for double plots, skewed plots, etc. to be rather tricky.

  • The goal in using Excel effectively to manage your records is to make this information available for use to anyone authorised in the cemetery management team. Retrieving data quickly is key – but retrieving inaccurate data wastes time and effort for you and the next generation of cemetery managers.

  • When in doubt, ask for help in completing data sets. Never guess, even if it appears simple. Dealing with historical data means that different or incorrect records will translate to misinformation about a deceased person’s life.

 In digitising your records onto an Excel template, you’re bound to identify missing records, duplicates, damaged, and incorrect records. 

Excel Records Are Tidy – What’s Next?

Once your Excel data is consolidated and tidied up, you’ll be able to retrieve written cemetery data far more quickly!

However, Excel is not built to create visual data maps that integrate cemetery records, diagrams, and maps. You’ll find that you’ll save time working with a logically laid out set of data, but it’s still necessary to work with a separate cemetery map when you’re searching for relevant plots.

After consolidating data, you may be wondering about the best way to have your data and cemetery map in one place – easily accessible and intuitive to navigate.

cemetery plot layout | chronicle

Moving Forward with a Digital Template

It may seem like a daunting process at first. The thought of getting stuck into mountains of records full of names, burial plot IDs, cemetery plot deeds, and reconciling them with their correct spots on an already difficult-to-decipher map keeps you up at night. But we assure you, once you undertake the task, you’ll begin to realise that your community and the next generation of cemetery managers deserves to have this legacy organised efficiently and accurately.

With better organised records, you’ll also notice that you’ll be able to serve potential clients more confidently – matching interment records with plot IDs won’t take hours of searching anymore. This is just the first step in moving towards a dedicated platform which guarantees that you’ll meet state standards while also benefiting from a streamlined, stunning visual plot map of your cemetery.

Ready to take the first step? Download our free Excel template to help you consolidate your cemetery plot records here.

How Going Digital Helped Transform a Centuries-Old Community Cemetery

Originally featured in ICCFA's Memento Mori vol. March-April 2021

DEATH IS INEVITABLE, and so is change. With our feet firmly planted in the digital era, it is necessary for cemetery management to keep up and adapt to the changing needs and capabilities of the time. The cemetery management industry has been doing just that; but how does a cemetery take on the task of digitising its records and mapping after using “traditional” methods of recordkeeping and mapping for more than a hundred years? Maple Hill Cemetery is a stellar example of a cemetery that has recognised the need for digital transformation in terms of its administration and mapping processes. This cemetery has become something of an institution in Minnesota over the last century, as it has preserved the unique history and legacy of its region in various ways. The decision to digitise the way it is managed was not only seen as a way to make administration for the cemetery easier, but also as a responsibility.

A Scandinavian Haven

As cemeteries go, Maple Hill fits quite neatly into the “small” category and its former Lutheran Church adds a picturesque, spiritual charm to the land. The beauty of this cemetery cannot be understated. It’s worth noting that it overlooks a gleaming lake for a further ethereal quality. Both the cemetery and its church were established around the turn of the 20th century, approximately five miles from the Canadian border. 

It seems fitting, then, that the locality drew a significant number of Scandinavian immigrants—contributing to the country and to the overall feel of the cemetery and its church. This Scandinavian heritage is visible from the headstones that dot the grounds, with names like Berglund, Ericsson, Bjornlund, Hedlund, Haglund, and Ellquist among those who rest there, framed by seasonal pinks and violets from the phlox petals that bloom in the spring. The cemetery also pays homage to the original inhabitants of the land, helping to preserve the region’s Native American legacy. Importantly, the land is historically tied to the family of the current chairman of the cemetery, Howard.

The Familiar Woes

Since the earliest interment here is dated December 1898, it’s only logical that paper ledgers and records had been the order of the day for decades. Today, these ageing records need to be handled with care, making quick, efficient recordkeeping and editing a timely process. Additionally, cemetery management has been neglected from time to time in the 120 years that Maple Hill has been functioning. With insufficient funding, upkeep proved to be difficult over the years and the need for volunteers added to the problems that plagued Maple Hill Cemetery’s recordkeeping. A digital solution needed to solve the problem of inaccurate data affordably. 

It just so happens that those who volunteer to help Maple Hill Cemetery, both in recordkeeping and mapping, are an ageing demographic. With the modern world as it is today, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find volunteers with time on their hands to help with maintaining records, to lay out graves and markers, and to contribute to the cemetery’s general upkeep. Quick turnover in volunteers creates further issues regarding record accuracy; it takes time to train new volunteers and familiarise them with the layout of burial plots and methods of keeping the books. Efficiently digitising records and the ongoing methods to maintain them can alleviate the problems faced by cemeteries like Maple Hill. It was imperative that the cemetery’s paper records and Excel spreadsheets be transferred to a user-friendly, efficient digital platform in a bid to increase accuracy and save the cemetery from the passing of time.

Correcting Innacuracy

Chronicle was faced with a complex challenge. Along with gaps in their records, Maple Hill Cemetery’s Excel spreadsheets and paper records were misaligned with the scanned map plans. The team at Chronicle had to separate plot IDs from the personal details of the interred individual for the team to work on correcting the mismatch between the plot map and their corresponding records. It took more than a month and a half to bring together data that was spread across various mediums—ledgers, old paper documents, and clumsy Excel spreadsheets. 

These records had to correspond with the existing cemetery maps, too. Unfortunately, these maps were off-scale when they were initially drawn, so the Chronicle team strived to make the necessary adjustments, along with improving scaling after a physical survey of the cemetery’s grounds. The new maps, too, were digitised and linked to the records relevant to their corresponding plots.

Going Digital: A Necessity

The inaccuracy between a cemetery’s maps and records is not a novel problem for cemeteries the world over. The nature of the cemetery management industry is that it has been relying on the goodwill of volunteers in virtually every country, and their selflessness does not go unappreciated. However, it’s true that volunteer turnover results in disjointed, non-uniform record keeping which tends to suffer exponentially with time. 

Maple Hill Cemetery’s records were sorted and cleaned up with the help of the Chronicle team, and ported to the software’s cloud, where they’re accessible 24/7 from any device. Now volunteers have a user interface that’s easy to understand and keeps records in a uniform, consistent manner. Every addition or edit to the records is now tracked.

These records are automatically aligned with a stunning visual map of the cemetery – only fitting for a cemetery like this one. Both Howard and prospective clients are provided with a beautiful map of the cemetery with colour-coded markers to instantly identify the availability status of every burial plot. With just a click, both visitors and cemetery administrators also benefit from knowing more about an individual buried in these plots. 

These problems are not unique to this scenic cemetery. Change is inevitable, but it can be undertaken smoothly with a willingness to accept that simpler solutions for traditional processes are available, and made all the more easy with a digital cemetery management platform

Space for Cemetery Software System in Unique Funeral Traditions Around the World

unique funeral traditions | dia de los muertos | cemetery software | chronicle

Death and taxes, they say, are inevitable. But that tells us nothing of the innovative and curious ways in which death is “celebrated” across the world. Yes, death signifies the passing of a human being from this mortal world. Some believe that we just cease to exist as conscious beings, but many, many others around the world – across cultures and traditions – believe otherwise. For many, death is a milestone in our existence, where our souls transition from this world into the next. Those who work in the world of modern death care today would see funerals and interment connected to cemetery software system and management. Death is conceived differently across traditions, cultures, religious communities, and even occupations.

A Glimpse into Lesser-Known Funeral Traditions

For many of us in the West, death is a sombre affair, and the funeral process tends to be a colourless one. Yet, it’s what we consider to be normal. In traditional Christian and Jewish funerals, the bereaved attend the church or synagogue wearing all (or mostly) black. The prayer ritual takes place and eulogies are given. Once at the cemetery or graveyard, flowers – often roses – are gently placed into the casket of the dead before the deceased is lowered into the ground. In a similar vein, wearing all (or mostly) white is customary when one attends a Hindu funeral. For Muslims, a process similar to that of the Jews and Christians takes place – to some degree – and while wearing black is not a custom, it’s customary to wear clothes that don’t attract much attention.

unique funeral traditions | bali hindu | cemetery software | chronicle

What’s common across all these religious and cultural traditions is this: death is a momentous event! It’s for this reason that other traditions from around the world have considered the rituals and rites surrounding death as something not to be seen entirely as a sad, dreary event, but something to be celebrated, where the dead receive a send-off or are interred in curious and fascinating ways. It also opens up various avenues for cemetery software system and digital memorial requirements in the contemporary world. As we cement ourselves further and further into the digital age, we should perhaps take a leaf from their proverbial books and reshape our collective mindsets about how we perceive death and how we remember the dead. This is where cemetery management and digital memorial overlap.

Is death the end? For many, they’re almost certain that it isn’t! How do others send off their lost loved ones today with traditions that may possibly shake up our sensibilities?

Death as the Everyday – The Philippines

In the Philippines, there are a host of contrasting practices revolving around death, interment, and funerals. Taking a look at the Tinguan people, those who passed in their community take their place on a chair, sat upright and dressed in their best clothes. To put the icing on the cake, as it were, a cigarette is placed between their lips, too. A lively death get-up or a severe smoking warning? You decide. 

The Caviteño people, who live near Manila, opt for something a tad more romantic, burying their dead in a hollowed-out tree trunk. Just as some might ensure they’ve got a casket ready before they pass on, the Caviteño select their preferred tree while they’re still alive.

Among the Benguet of northwestern Philippines, the dead are blindfolded and placed next to the house’s main entrance. It’s a stark reminder that death is something we’re all going to taste, as well as a reminder that the bereaved have loved ones waiting for them on the other side. Similarly, the Apayo people of this nation bury their dead under the heart of the home – the kitchen.

unique funeral traditions | caviteno tree burial | cemetery software | chronicle

Play for the Dead, Care for the Dead

Jazz burials in New Orleans and skull burials in the Republic of Kiribati, in the Central Pacific, could not be more different, yet they’re one of the more vivid ways of sending off the dead and – this may sound strange to some – caring for the dead.

In New Orleans, jazz and music is entwined with the city’s culture. It comes as no surprise, then, that jazz accompanies many a funeral procession, with a big horn band at the helm! The music begins with more solemn tunes, gradually transitioning into more lively jazz and blues melodies as onlookers and the bereaved engage in furious dancing.

In Kiribati, the dead are exhumed from their graves. Their skulls are taken to be oiled, polished, and preserved by their families. The skull is then displayed in their homes, with offerings of food and tobacco made to it. To some degree, the funerary tradition of Famadihana in Madagascar sees people dig up their dead every half a decade or so. The dead partake in dances, they’re perfumed and taken care of, and stories are shared about them and with them.

Transforming the deceased body

While lack of burial space in South Korea has led to the phenomenon of burial beads – bodies are cremated and pressed into jewellery-like beads – Australia is working on the idea of the Earth Funerals. It’s a proposal that tackles lack of burial space in urban areas by advocating for natural, environmentally-friendly burials in newly-planted vegetation belts around Australian cities. This builds on ecologically-friendly burial practices – something that most Muslims, many Jews, and others practice today – where plain, cloth shrouds are used instead of caskets or coffins for burials.

unique funeral traditions | burial beads south korea | cemetery software | chronicle

The Dead Tell Tales – Cemetery Software System Allows for Richer Stories

All these practices have one thing in common – there’s a narrative around death. Those who passed live on through memory and through the stories we tell about them, their lives, and the impact they’ve had on us and the world. No matter the culture, funeral rites and cemetery managers serve the community. Throughout time, these rites have evolved and we’ve continuously innovated the way we manage burials and cemeteries. 

While each culture and tradition has (sometimes wildly) different death practices, a cemetery software system can lighten the load and make the management process simpler. This allows cemetery administrators and managers the time and resources to serve their community better and to help tell stories of those in the community who have left, enriching cultures and keeping traditions alive.

Image source:

  • tahoedailytribune.com
  • photographylife.com
  • amusingplanet.com
  • neworleans.com
  • blog.funeralone.com

8 Best Cemetery Management Software Compared 2020

Having the right tools at your disposal to perform your job efficiently is priceless. For cemetery management, we’re becoming increasingly aware of the need to progress from using paper ledgers and Excel spreadsheets to cemetery management software that addresses the specific mapping problems faced in this industry.

What is Cemetery Software?

As a cemetery administrator, you’re all too aware that not many outside of the industry really understands the very specific challenges that you face every day. Forgive the pun, but cemetery management is quite niche!

Good cemetery software digitises your cemetery management processes and record-keeping. Great cemetery software transforms and simplifies the way your cemetery is mapped and how you manage your cemetery’s data, affordably, while contributing positively to the legacy of your community.

 

What Features Should Exist on Cemetery Software?

When looking for the right software to help your cemetery’s management, keep in mind that you’re looking for tools that will provide consistency for your cemetery’s maps, eliminate the need for paper records, and offer instant visualisation of the status of each of your cemetery’s plots. Excel is a thing of the past – you’re looking for software tailored to your needs, not a clumsy, catch-all program.

Don’t forget, the cemetery is at the heart of the community’s history, so software that makes it simple for you and others to share those memories is essential in today’s social world.

Equally as important is the need for cemetery software to be affordable with transparent pricing, depending on what your cemetery can afford – big or small. That being said, let’s compare 8 of the best cemetery software platforms out there today so that you can make an informed choice moving forward.

The Contenders – A Cemetery Mapping Software Comparison

 

CemSites

CemSites has become fairly popular in the US, being implemented in more than 40 states since its establishment in 2012, by Founders Scott McAfee and Sean Johnson. “Cloud Software for Cemeteries”, this cloud-based platform specialises in cemetery record management software (CRM), obituaries and stories, and report management, aimed at saving cemeteries time and money.

simple cemetery software | comparison | cemsites | chronicle
CemSites Example Cemetery Map: Round Hill Cemetery

CemSites is for cemeteries of all sizes. Features like grave mapping are only available as an add-on, not as a standard feature. It doesn’t offer a quick indication of plots that are available or occupied, but CemSites offers substantial information through their burial search, including photographs and obituaries. They also offer a handy flower service at the click of a button.

Pricing works on a module and subscription module, so cemeteries pay for what they need. However, it’s not clear what the price tier is like, as you can only view this after you use CemSites’ demo.

Example cemetery map: Round Hill Cemetery

What we like: CemSites offers various plans, depending on your cemetery. This includes pet cemeteries, Jewish cemeteries, and crematoria, among others.

CIMS

CIMS is focused on its GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and has provided mapping and customised software solutions for 1,000 cemeteries in the US since 1992. CIMS’s expertise lies in plot management, but their desktop and cloud platform offers accounting and document management, grave search, image storage, and lot management. It’s a great tool for large and small cemeteries, yet pricing is currently non-transparent – you’ll have to request a free quote. You have the option of opting for the lite version if your budget doesn’t allow for their pricing – a premium price for their longtime presence in the market.

digital cemetery software | comparison | cims | chronicle
CIMS Example Cemetery Map: Belle Fourche Cemetery

CIMS users tend to learn how to use the platform themselves, making use of their commendable customer service portal. Map plots include detailed burial information but don’t offer quick identification of plot status through colour-coding – being in the market since 1992 seems to have made the platform resistant to change, to some degree.

Example cemetery map: Belle Fourche Cemetery

What we like: CIMS support is quick to answer queries and deal with issues, and their many reviews are a testament to their dedication to clients.

OpusXenta

OpusXenta is a global tech company that offers complete solutions for funeral homes, cemeteries, and crematoria. They’ve been around since 2016, and offer two main products: byondcloud and byondpro. 

It’s important to know how each product can help you differently. byondcloud is a digital presence tool, giving you everything you need to expand your presence online, connect with customers and expand your market. byondcloud, on the other hand, is focussed on managing your cemetery business efficiently to help you generate incremental revenue. For cemetery records management, the latter would be the more suitable choice.

Small and medium cemeteries will benefit most from their service – starting from $20 a month if you’re satisfied after their free 14-day trial. Subscriptions-based pricing is modular, allowing you to purchase more features. For detailed information on pricing, you’ll have to contact them directly.

digital cemetery software | comparison | opusxenta opusxi | chronicle
OpusXenta Example Database Dashboard

OpusXenta doesn’t offer a very interactive mapping system as information doesn’t appear when an individual plot is clicked. Without an API (Application Programming Interface), OpusXenta doesn’t enable two applications to exchange data among each other.

Example cemetery map: Not available.

What we like: Their high-quality GIS images are great to behold, and their focus extends to death care, not just cemeteries themselves.

PlotBox

PlotBox is cemetery management reimagined. Founded in 2011, this platform is a one-stop hub for death care management. PlotBox fully integrates two previously separate functions – cemetery management software and cemetery mapping. It also offers iPad and iPhone support for their wide range of features, including API integration, risk assessment, and verified mapping – ideal for large cemeteries which offer complete death care services.

cemetery management software | comparison | plotbox | chronicle
Plotbox Example Cemetery Map: Rookwood Cemetery

It’s a comprehensive platform but can also be too complex for many, so a step-by-step chat with their experts would be necessary.

Pricing for PlotBox’s main product depends on the number of users and cemeteries. They offer 3 main products, while also providing mapping services if that’s all you need, as well as standalone products like remote booking and contract management, CRM for sales, and work orders.

Example cemetery map: Roockwood Cemetery

What we like: Everything you need in one place, offering integration with your current software.

Central Square (formally Stone Orchard)

Founded in 1995, Central Square (known as Stone Orchard until 2018), still uses many of the same core software components from their early development days. In addition to having your own workstation, this cemetery management platform’s primary management module needs a privately hosted server to function. Both the server and software is set up and maintained by you, the customer, and you’re required to hire your own IT team to do so. Important to note: Central Square’s software does not run natively in the cloud and has very limited mapping functionality. Although Central Square support does their best, their reach is limited due to restrictive company policy.

digital cemetery software | comparison | stoneorchard | chronicle
Central Square Example Database Management

Highly customisable, comprehensive records management software allows for a myriad of possibilities. It’s highly unlikely that customers would be left without options, even if they’re looking to enter more obscure bits of interment data.

This is utilitarian software, best suited to those already running a local private server. No bells and whistles here, but with their 25 years of experience they know how cemeteries work and have adapted their original software into a highly competent records management tool.

Although you can purchase just what your cemetery needs, you’d have to contact them directly for pricing. Their software also has minimum hardware requirements to run, so make sure of that beforehand!

Example cemetery map: Not available

What we like: They also include point of sales functionality, helping to maintain complete sales records.

webCemeteries

Helping to manage your records and improve your process while creating a great customer experience, webCemeteries provides cloud-based software solutions for cemetery management. They also help to digitise your existing paper records with scanning and data entry, offer mapping solutions (although public viewers are not able to view vacant or reserved plots), and even website design to generate sales.

simple cemetery software | comparison | webcemeteries | chronicle
webCemeteries Example Cemetery Map: Hope Cemetery

Whether you’re managing a small or large cemetery, this is a very useful platform, but you’d have to contact them directly for any information regarding pricing.

Example cemetery map: Hope Cemetery

What we like: Their incredibly immersive Cemetery360 ground-level views of over 300 cemeteries across 38 states in the US and Canada, as well as having your own branded cemetery app available on mobile app stores.

Grave Discover Software

For reliable cemetery software, Grave Discover Software focuses on record management and grave search – great for small to medium cemeteries. Their product offers highly-detailed features when it comes to record management with a useful cemetery statistics dashboard, grave search and sorting, grave mapping, and a host of others! All cemetery data is also search engine friendly, allowing your cemetery burial information to show up on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others, but there’s no API available.

simple cemetery software | comparison | grave discover | chronicle
Grave Discover Example Cemetery Map: Rosewood Cemetery

Pricing is fixed and subscription-based – send specific details about your cemetery to Grave Discover to find out what their software will cost you.

Example cemetery map: Rosewood Cemetery

What we like: An interactive cemetery map with an option of various views (satellite, map, detail, and list data) that allows members of the public to search burials and find which plots are for sale.

Chronicle

Innovative, easy-to-use cemetery management software that’s ideal for small and medium cemeteries, Chronicle’s cloud-based platform is working to simplify the way cemeteries are managed since 2016 in Australia and the USA. Its founder, Matthew Borowski, brings his passion and expertise of clever solutions and GIS mapping to the cemetery management industry with a comprehensive, secure platform. Chronicle offers a built-in database with reporting and statistic functionality, although it’s got a closed API.

Chronicle boasts automatic backup, too, so you won’t have to worry about losing your progress. Their fixed, subscription-based pricing system allows you to easily choose a plan for the size of your cemetery. It’s worth noting that they offer a free basic plan for small cemeteries of up to 2,000 plots.

Example cemetery map: Beechworth Cemetery (or browse all the cemetery world map)

What we like: The crisp, clean interface, using high-quality GIS imaging, is really user-friendly and allows for unlimited users.

Our Pick: Chronicle and Their Crisp, User-Friendly Cemetery Management Platform

Simple, comprehensive record management and informative data and geographical mapping make this our top choice for an all-round, affordable, and easy-to-use cemetery mapping software.

Chronicle strives to solve all the major problems with cemetery management today – both those inherited from a pre-digital era and allows for sharing memories instantly in our fast-paced, social world of today. Give it a whirl and manage your cemetery in Chronicle now.

Cemetery Mapping Problems and How to Solve Them

Cemetery Mapping Problems | Blog Post | Best Cemetery Mapping Software | Chronicle

6 Cemetery Mapping Problems:

    1. Cemetery Maps So Inconsistent
    2. Paper Records Add to Cemetery Mapping Problems
    3. The Tragedy of Compounding Errors
    4. Eclipse Excel with Great Cemetery Management Software
    5. Share Memories Instantly
    6. Affordable Cemetery Mapping Software

Cemeteries mean different things for different people. For many, they’re sombre resting places which we don’t like to think about. For others, they’re contemplative spaces that hold the memories of their loved ones. There are also those who are fascinated with cemeteries, their atmosphere and lore. However, there are those for whom cemeteries are their everyday life – cemetery administrators and staff. For them, cemeteries mapping problems can be an everyday challenge. The truth is, it can become frustrating and painful to deal with a very unique set of problems for a work environment that most other people have no idea about!

For cemetery administrators, your “workplace” can be a century old, or more, and this comes with a set of problems that you may know too well – cemetery mapping challenges. Often, you just can’t get your head around the records that exist, and at other times, you just try your best to work with what you have. Let’s take a look at some of these issues that cemetery staff are familiar with (and possibly not even realise it).

Why Are Cemetery Maps So Inconsistent?

Quite simply, here’s the reason: most cemetery mapping problems stem from the existing diagrams and records being so old! Look, age isn’t a bad thing. It’s just that as the years have passed, different cemetery administrators and record-keepers just did things their way. Often, they just winged it.

This led to inaccuracies in the diagrams which exist today, some that are even outright incorrect! We’re sure that you’re familiar with it. You’re looking for a specific plot and logic dictates that it should be in a particular spot. You’re frustrated when you learn it’s not where the diagram says it should be, and that’s because some plots have been numbered sequentially by location and others by the time order of their purchase. 

For cemetery admin, your local cemetery association, and visitors alike, these old, inaccurate diagrams need accuracy and consistency. This is why accurate cemetery surveying is vital – it creates consistency, making your job simple and efficient. Grave plots are mapped accurately so your cemetery map shows you exactly where to find them.

Paper Records Add to Cemetery Mapping Problems

A major reason that those old cemetery records and diagrams are such a mess is because they’re all on paper. Making sense of scribbles and scratchy shapes on old paper records and diagrams is a nightmare. Administrators over the years have made annotations on top of the edits made by the previous administrator. You see the problem here, right?

As if bad handwriting isn’t enough of an obstacle to quickly identify who’s buried in the grave you’re looking at, you’ve got to deal with old, delicate paper that requires a very light touch. We’re in the digital age for a reason. There’s no need for paper when you can make clean edits and find the plot you’re looking for without learning how to decipher cuneiform first.

The issue of consistency and longevity is something we’ve solved, too. With seamless cemetery management software, every administrator works with the same mapping and record system. Everyone’s on the same page. Oh, and less paper is more sustainable!

The Tragedy of Compounding Errors

This is no comedy of errors, especially when you consider that inconsistent cemetery mapping records are made more confusing by hoping you’ve deciphered the scribbles correctly. Incorrectly identifying a grave leads to a new burial being mapped incorrectly, too. No one wants a cluster headache in the future when you find out later that a row of new burials are all referenced incorrectly.

Easily identifiable markers definitely make life simpler – using tailored cemetery management software enables you to receive instant visual indications of the plots you’ve selected.

Eclipse Excel with Great Cemetery Management Software

Spreadsheets are not made to solve cemetery mapping problems. Using Excel is great for crunching numbers and statistics, but it’s just not built to solve the issues that you’re facing when you need to know how to make a cemetery plot map accurately.

Excel is a challenge, especially when you’re trying to figure out how to organise data like headstone text and photos, correct interment details, and, of course, physical plot location. There’s no easy way to map your plots in both the real world and in real-time, as well as to get a visual representation of your cemetery’s monuments in the program. It’s inaccurate, and because it appears organised at first, we tend to feel that it really is.

Using Excel, you could fall into a false sense of security, so looking out for a more reliable solution would be a wiser move, especially when you’re made aware of mistakes as soon as they happen. What’s more, unlike Excel, by choosing to use an interactive map of your cemetery, specialised cemetery mapping software allows for team collaboration and provides a safe platform to secure your data on its cloud-based cemetery records software.

Share Memories Instantly

With the prevalence of social media, sharing our lives and memories is part and parcel of our lives today. Yet, how do we share the information on where our relatives are buried so others can identify their headstones and visit their graves? Sharing a PDF is not going to cut it when sharing information is made so easy these days – especially in cases where a family member enquires about which plot is available for purchase at your local cemetery.

This is solved with an online cemetery portal offering public access. It’s easier to share the legacy of your community over a digital platform where you can get instant access to detailed information on who is buried where, and which plots are vacant in your town’s cemetery.

Affordable Cemetery Mapping Software

These solutions sound costly and you’re probably thinking that it’s inaccessible to solve those problems with your budget. Most dedicated software solutions for cemetery mapping problems cost thousands per year. Your cemetery is already spending money to maintain the grounds, so how can you possibly hire a surveyor to walk between the plots and draw a static diagram? 

Look for cemetery mapping software that matches your budget and fulfils your community cemetery’s requirements. Transparent pricing lets you know exactly where you stand. It’s what we pride ourselves on – scalable license fees and cost for us to draw your cemetery, as well as clean and analyse the records of your cemetery of 500 to 10,000 plots.

Cemetery Mapping Problems | Infographic Cemetery Mapping Software | Chronicle.rip

How to Map a Cemetery Easily? Try It For Yourself

As a cemetery administrator, you need to know how to map a cemetery and keep up with the times. To make your job simpler and revive the legacy of your community, there’s no better time than now. You, probably better than anyone, know how fleeting life can be.

Create your cemetery, digitally, with Chronicle’s free cemetery software and see just how easily all these problems can be solved.

Ultimate Guide to Cemetery Grants in Victoria, Australia

Most people think of cemeteries and graveyards as merely a location where the remains of their loved ones are buried. Yet, for those attending to a cemetery or graveyard understand the considerable amount of care, attention to detail, and rehabilitation one requires. Undoubtedly this means a significant amount of money will at some point be the means to a solution to an unforecasted problem.

Continue reading