Four Tales of Digitising Australian Cemeteries in Victoria

Map and records search: map.chronicle.rip

  • Digitalised cemetery records
  • Physical survey of the cemetery grounds
  • Interactive online cemetery map
  • 24/7 online access to plot/cemetery information
  • Customised database management solutions delivered at a highly affordable price

Cemeteries and the digital realm seem like two contrasting ideas, but useful digital innovation can be applied across industries. Yes, the cemetery industry is one where things move a tad slower than elsewhere, but meaningful, practical change should be adapted where possible.

For cemetery management, record-keeping and accurate mapping are a priority, both for legacy and for profitability of the cemetery as a business. This is where digital record-keeping and mapping comes in, saving time and frustration, and helping communities preserve their histories. Yet, going digital is a broad term and doesn’t always mean more accurate or efficient mapping and record-keeping. Certain programmes, like Excel, have been used widely but come with a host of issues since they weren’t built for the unique niche of cemetery management. For some, knowing where to start when going digital can be incredibly confusing.

Nothing’s Impossible

YouTube tutorials or explanatory articles don’t really apply to your cemetery’s unique context and issues. Your expansion projects, funding concerns, operational resources (including manpower) and even the thought of a feasibility study could lead you to abandon the idea altogether.

It shouldn’t. Have a look at some of the latest projects we’ve assisted with in digitising Australian cemeteries in Victoria. These offer a detailed picture of varied cemeteries, their differing operations, and what going digital meant for them in the long-term. Each cemetery has their own, specific goals, circumstances, and status, but all have successfully gone digital (or are well on their way). If funding is an obstacle for your cemetery, some of these cases illustrate how Chronicle has assisted in procuring grants to complete cemetery digitising projects from Australia’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in Victoria.

Visions of Expansion - Warrnambool Cemetery

Arguably one of the most renowned institutions of its kind in Victoria, Warrnambool Cemetery was one of our larger projects. With a maximum of 200 interments per year, this cemetery has inevitably found the need to extend, which is why it now consists of two cemeteries; Tooram Memorial Park being the new expansion located nearby.

Getting Warrnambool Cemetery and Sheryl – Chairperson of the Trust – on board was no quick task. In fact, it took over a year for them to join Chronicle. For a large institution like Warrnambool Cemetery who were further expanding to 55-hectare Tooram overlooking the seaside, they needed to make the right decision for the long term. Understandably so, since Tooram is expected to serve them for the next century and a half. Sheryl sought a cemetery management system that incorporated digital mapping.

With their plans for the future and a responsibility to their community, their standards were high. Before Chronicle, they ran a semi-manual management system. Excel record-keeping, combined with their three-year run on dated software that functioned as an online burial web search didn’t do the trick for them – their records were not really being managed. For a notable local institution, Warrnambool Cemetery wanted to be at the forefront of digitising Australian cemeteries in Victoria.

But how would they create backups of current Excel records? What about the cost? Other trustees had raised their eyebrows at first, uninterested, after our first proposal in October of 2020.

Requirements, Competition & Good Conversation

Chronicle was not the only choice – other cemetery software was also in the running to win Warrnambool’s hand. But our mapping expertise, combined with our desire to understand their specific needs in full – both the cemetery’s history, current context, and future plans, helped Warrnambool make their choice. It’s a conversation that took more than a year for good reason.

Even while they considered counter offers, we stayed at Warrnambool’s side and listened to their specific needs and helped to tailor a solution for them. After joining our webinars in November 2020 and January 2021, Sheryl and Warrnambool grew in confidence towards us.

We shook on it and thus began a working partnership as we brought Warrnambool onboard. The bulk of our work involved helping Sheryl and her team by migrating all their old data over to Chronicle. The activity was migration-heavy; data and records from multiple sources were collated, sorted, and reorganised onto our far more intuitive, dynamic platform.

For us, the case of Warrnambool cemetery proved how flexible the Chronicle team can be. By engaging with the Trust, we provided options, offering multiple presentations about what’s possible for their unique situation. In the end, this is what helped us to beat the competition – going above and beyond to tailor a solution for a potential client, even if our paths were to have diverged.

Finding Funding - How Yarragon Cemetery Went Digital

Located in the city of Baw Baw, Victoria, Yarragon Cemetery exemplifies the kind of small, rural cemetery that still does things the old-fashioned way. In October 2020, having spoken to Graeme, he seemed content to continue the way they’ve always been managing the cemetery, showing no interest in going digital. After all, Yarragon is small – he saw no obvious challenges in managing their records, comprising two to three copies of paper copies, all stored in a single location. They worked with paper maps, too. Soon after, however, Graeme voiced his concern over the cost of digital mapping and that’s when Chronicle realised that he faced an obstacle which many cemeteries, like Yarragon, are dealing with – funding.

Graeme referred us to Angela, Yarragon’s secretary, with whom we had a chat about their records situation. Angela saw the potential, joining our OVIC webinar a few months later, in January 2021 and that’s when we identified their specific requirements. Yarragon dealt with paper, and lots of it! This included death certificates. All these records needed to be digitised, and one, single map needed to be created. Up until then, they were moving between two to three different maps of their small cemetery to keep track of plots. But how would they get the help they need without funding?

We stepped in, encouraging them to apply to DHHS for a grant in March. After all, DHHS prioritises what we do – data security, the ability to share information while maintaining confidence in records through accurate record keeping and easy access to data. We simplified the process for Yarragon, having sent them a simplified grant templated, prefilled with Chronicle details and the scope of work required. All costs were outlined for their specific cemetery digitisation project with a 5-year software license.

Straightforward. The primary issue was solved after the grant was approved in April of 2021. All we had to do for Graeme and Yarragon after that was to transcribe their paper records, extract information, and digitise it all, while simultaneously rebuilding an accurate digital map for them after identifying unmarked graves.

Kangaroo Ground Cemetery - Urban Transformation

With approximately 70 interments per year, the old, medium-sized cemetery of Kangaroo Ground consists of about 5000 records. It was a mixed bag as some records were on Excel while some sets were on paper, dating back to 1851! They kept their records in Excel and Google cloud storage, but Kangaroo Ground used Excel grids as maps, too. What we continually find with Excel plot maps is that they may look neat and tidy, but are in no way representative of the real world. Cemetery grounds are not accurately represented on neat Excel grid maps, especially when you find multiple burials in a single plot. It creates some confusing situations down the line.

Kangaroo Ground is growing and plans to expand by two thirds (at least), and their current way of managing records involves referring to Excel spreadsheets, confirming what’s available, and showing those to potential clients. Speaking to them in February 2021, the administrators knew the importance of digitising Australian cemeteries in Victoria and what it meant for their progress. They needed real, practical digital maps, along with one interface on which they can update their records and see what plots are available, owned, or reserved. They were using a disjointed system where records were kept in three different places. This needed to be kept on a database that contains all the rights of interment details where they wanted to be able to attach relevant documents, like death certificates. Kangaroo Ground were thorough and sought quotes from other solutions providers.

Our team has a uniquely amicable and helpful approach, and, as with Warrambool, Kangaroo Ground appreciated it. Excuse the pun, but we buried the competition, helped Kangaroo Ground to secure partial fulfilment of their grant application, and worked with the records that they supplied to us electronically. After preliminary analysis and a discussion with their administrative team, we solved discrepancies, combined maps and aerial imagery with their records, and presented Kangaroo Ground with their new, intuitive platform with integrated mapping. Additionally, all relevant parties benefited from our online training on how to easily manage their digitised cemetery.

Spring Hill Cemetery - A Story of Hope in Digitising Australian Cemeteries in Victoria

A very small cemetery with a long, and somewhat sad backstory, Spring Hill Cemetery’s first burial was recorded in the 19th century. The cemetery had 120 records – all on paper – but their map, including many records, and even headstones and monuments were lost in a devastating fire that occurred thirty to forty years ago.

With damaged headstones and no map, the inability to locate and identify burials led to a neglected cemetery. The spark of hope was alive because Spring Hill intended to reopen and sell plots again. They just needed help getting on their feet again by identifying all plots and locating buried bodies. A small, inoperational cemetery fallen into ruin, it all seemed a pipedream without funding.

Chronicle stepped in, by helping them apply for the DHHS grant in the March 2021 period, which they were glad to receive in May. 

Providing them the tools to transfer their paper records onto an Excel spreadsheet from which our team could begin working, they found volunteers to perform data entry. Additionally, Spring Hill received funding to geo-map a small part of their cemetery so burials without markers could be located by using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) – a process on which we lent a helping hand to fulfil the overall objective.

Once geo-mapping is complete, the Chronicle team will be able to perform an aerial and headstone surve. Everything above ground and below will soon be fully surveyed before we fully recreate Spring Hill Cemetery’s records and map in stunning, intuitive digital format. It may sound unique, but we’ve dealt with “Spring Hills” before – one of them being our client in the United States.

Tailored Solutions, Moving Forward

Every cemetery is at a different point in its journey but Chronicle’s up for the challenge and we’ll overcome it together, no matter the concerns. Some cemeteries were partly digitised, some were doing it all the old-fashioned way. Funding proved to be the largest obstacle in the way for smaller cemeteries, while others dealt with very unique backstories. We’re all for resourcefulness. Find out how your cemetery’s unique problems can have tailored solutions with our cemetery software!

A Time for Heroes – The Digitising of Battle Creek Memorial Park

Map and records search: Battle Creek Memorial Park

  • Digitalised cemetery records
  • Physical survey of the cemetery grounds
  • Interactive online cemetery map
  • 24/7 online access to plot/cemetery information
  • Customised database management solutions delivered at a highly affordable price

The Digitising of Battle Creek Memorial Park, Michigan

In Calhoun County, Michigan, lies Battle Creek Memorial Park. A colossal cemetery in the United States, dotted with monuments, gravestones, this institution is one of great significance, both for its community and for Chronicle. With more than 50,000 plots, this vast cemetery caters to the city of Battle Creek whose history goes back to at least 1774 when the Potawatomi and Ottawa Native American tribes formed a joint village near to where the city would later expand.

Notable burials at Battle Creek Memorial Park include two US Congressmen, Paul Werntz Shafer and Howard Eliot Wolpe III. Among them is also interred Ruth Swanson Venn, entrepreneur. Certainly a beacon of legacy for the city of Battle Creek, the Memorial Park is also a beacon of pride for the Chronice team who worked to digitise their records. From a clumsy, complex, and labyrinthine system of records, the team worked to create spectacular cemetery plot maps for the enormous institution.

Skirmishes – Overcoming Cemetery Plot Maps Challenges

batte-creak-cemetery-2

A mammoth task lay ahead, indeed. When confronted with a project of such epic proportions ahead, what does a team do in order to get ahead, work through, and succeed? Strategy, planning, and an in-depth knowledge combined with expertise is what took the Chronicle team through.

This is not to say that it wasn’t easy or intimidating – because trust us, it certainly was. As only our second customer in the United States, Battle Creek Memorial Park meant more than just a foot in the door in the country. Chronicle signed with the institution in December of 2020 and the project began.

They appeared insurmountable at first, but the challenges and obstacles that lay ahead of the team took a number of forms. For one, it was the sheer mass of records that needed to be sorted, made sense of, and then converted and transferred over onto the Chronicle platform.

 

To provide a better idea of the magnitude of the project at hand, we think it best to offer you a few numbers to better conceptualise it. Comprising three cemeteries, Battle Creek Memorial Park holds ample burial space. In numbers, this translates to 57,648 plots altogether! Of that number, the institution holds 24,545 total interments currently – both entombments and ashes from cremations. These are all spread over 20 sections that can be found in the Park Immense, we know, but the Chronicle team of cemetery mapping experts was more than up to the challenge.

Now, it’s not just the size of the task that posed a challenge. Before moving over to Chronicle for cemetery management, Battle Creek Memorial Park dealt with no practical mapping or location finder for their immense cemetery. Both staff and members of the public were forced to work with paper maps and scanned plans, finding themselves easily lost among the tombstones and walkways of the institution. Finding one’s way is not just essential in a cemetery, when family members are on their way to pay respects to their loved ones, but it’s also a key aspect of any efficient infrastructure – both physical and digital.

Eyes on the Objective – The Road to Spectacular Cemetery Database Software

cemetery plot template | chronicle

Creating an accurate cemetery plot map for Battle Creek was only one piece of the puzzle. The Chronicle team had to deal with the cemetery’s existing records, first. It may sound like an everyday issue for many SaaS platforms taking over from the previous cemetery database software, but this proved to be different.

For many in the cemetery management industry, the name Pontem rings a bell. Pontem is an already pretty well-known data manager for cemeteries, but for some types of cemeteries, the way that data is managed is rather complex. The team discussed essential and non-essential data and record sets with ROI holders at various stages of the data conversion process. 

Why is this necessary to understand? First, let’s take you through the process of how Chronicle digitises a cemetery. If you’re an avid reader of our case studies, you know that it usually goes a little something like this:  We obtain high-quality aerial imagery (often using drones), then we overlay existing cemetery plans and map atop the newly-acquired aerial imagery. The team matches old paper matches with the new, high-resolution images of the cemetery and then moves onto drawing each individual cemetery plot.

Scroll back a bit to the number of plots that we mentioned above. Yes, the Chronicle team did what some may consider too complicated, drawing each and every plot to match the memorial park in real life. This dedication to the cause is one of the reasons that John from Battle Creek committed this gargantuan task to Chronicle. No other cemetery software platform even tries to draw a real cemetery plot map – typical platforms usually opt for single dots or points to represent a plot, instead of using polygons.

Database Conversion – The Pontem Labyrinth

Drawing the plot map wasn’t the final boss, only its minion. Back to Pontem. John and his team are struggling in making sense of the records so that we could bring them over into Chronicle. For those cemeteries who use the software and look to move over to a more intuitive platform, Pontem database conversion is often what keeps them tied down.

The Chronicle team charged ahead nonetheless. They reverse-engineered Pontem’s incredibly complex database made up of hundreds of different tables, massive file sizes, and almost half a million line items. They were in the backrooms of Pontem cemetery software, a land where no integrated mapping obscures mistakes, plot IDs attached to non-real plots, floating names without a plot to attach to… fade to black.

Sheer determination brought the team through as they waded through duplicate information and meaningless entries, while at the same time, deciphering whether that information really was a duplicate or whether the entry was really meaningless.

Triumph Against the Numbers

To put it into a battle perspective, it did almost seem like the team emerged from the smoke, battered and bruised, but triumphant, upon the completion of this project. We earned a hard-won, intuitive platform for John, the staff of Battle Creek Memorial Park, and the public who respect the community’s legacy. They ushered in a new era for those involved at the institution, giving managers and administrators a more accessible, accurate view of the cemetery through a spectacular, integrated map – one interface where records and visuals can be easily navigated on a single platform. The cemetery, with its swathes of records and plots, now only needs one click to enter data if a location is to be found. This makes the lives of visitors considerably easier – no more getting lost.

And for administrators at Battle Creek Memorial Park, they’re saving time for what matters. With fewer procedures to follow in order to enter and edit data, they’re far more confident in confirming the status of a cemetery plot or whether an interred person is related to a correct plot number. All this is achievable without having to go through the back and forth of paperwork and data entry in books and spreadsheets.

Battle Creek Memorial Park and the team have gained much-deserved convenience. A memorial park for the local heroes, a rich source of history, and a mission to conserve this vast number of records as accurately as possible is not uncommon for a cemetery or memorial park this grand in size. If you are looking to digitise your records and maps, or simply move from your current less-satisfying digital platform, find out how your cemetery’s unique challenges can have a tailored solution with Chronicle Cemetery Software!

A United Legacy – Cemetery Management Software for Virginia’s Jewish Community

jewish cemetery management software | chronicle

Map and records search: Jewish Cemetery of the Virginia Peninsula

  • Digitalised cemetery records
  • Physical survey of the cemetery grounds
  • Interactive online cemetery map
  • 24/7 online access to plot/cemetery information
  • Customised database management solutions delivered at a highly affordable price

Cemetery Management Software for Virginia’s Jewish Community

Established in 1895, the Jewish Cemetery of the Virginia Peninsula has a long and fascinating history in serving its community. Situated on 1817 Kecoughtan Road in Hampton, Virginia, in the United States, the spectacular granite headstones which mark the plots of this cemetery tell the tale of a community’s history bound by faith.

In fact, this is the tale of two cemeteries uniting to become one. The original cemetery from 1895 began as the Hebrew Cemetery of the Virginia Peninsula, serving the Orthodox members of the faith. But in the 1930s, Rosenbaum Memorial Park, a conservative cemetery, was built adjacent to the first. Even though they were no longer separated since 2002, when the wall of shrubbery which separates the two was removed, the two original gates still stand today – the history of the now Jewish Cemetery of the Virginia Peninsula is preserved. 

Today, it offers separate burial sections for all members of the Jewish community – including non-Jewish members of a Jewish family – that are operated in accordance with the governing principles of the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform movements within the faith.

Having undergone major repairs and renovations over the years, the cemetery now marks a new milestone in its history – Jewish cemetery management software tailored specifically for the use of the cemetery’s administrator, Roy. The digitisation of the cemetery’s map and records is certain to preserve and promote the history of the community, fostering a greater understanding of its intricate legacy.

Deciphering Paper Maps – A Tale as Old as Time

Very much following the traditional form of mapping their cemetery, the Jewish Cemetery had been using an old paper map to visualise plots and burial layouts. For Chronicle, this is not something new – moving away from paper maps and drawings in the process of digitising cemetery management is a large part of what the team does.

While it could be seen as routine in Chronicle’s process, each paper map that we work with comes with its very own set of unique challenges. After all, every cemetery manager works differently, and these differences are compounded over time and as cemeteries grow. These challenges were quickly apparent for the Chronicle team. The team spent a considerable amount of time trying to decipher the map and understand its peculiarities in order to find patterns and meaning in order to move forward.

Three very different design styles were visible on the old map. This led to inconsistencies in both its drawing and design as the map was updated and annotated over the years. To take this old paper map and port it over onto streamlined Jewish management software, making sense of these designs was integral. Yet, it did take some time – what the team quickly noticed was that plot row numbering patterns differed across the old map. It’s this lack of consistency that’s fairly common among cemeteries that still use paper maps. In most cases, the older the cemetery, the more inconsistencies one finds. This often becomes a source of confusion and misunderstanding, especially when management of the cemetery is handed over to a new administrator. Administrators do their best with what they’ve inherited, and make efforts to improve upon old systems of mapping. However, even with good intentions, inconsistent mapping can lead to indecipherable drawings.

“Is this a full row?” the team scratched its collective head, “Perhaps it signifies a full row?”

“But what does this marking mean and how does it relate to the rest of the drawing?”

These questions get asked a lot when deciphering old paper maps, but this was, possibly, the greatest challenge that the team faced when working with the Jewish Cemetery of the Virginia Peninsula. While the cemetery’s babies’ section was not all that well defined on the map, the team did not have much of a hill to climb when dealing with the cemetery’s existing Excel records.

Towards Tailored Maps and Record Keeping

Excel is a common tool for record-keeping, but it is certainly not the best cemetery software for Jewish congregations to use for administration of this nature. While the cemetery’s records were digitised in this format and we were able to make sense of it without much cause for concern, there were a few issues that needed to be ironed out. Since we had to cross-reference these records with the paper map, there were some unnecessary or, perhaps, excessive aspects on the records. Again, with a cemetery that’s 125 years old, this is not out of the ordinary and was dealt with fairly simply by the team.

Gradually, it all began to come together as developed the platform for this Jewish cemetery management software. After understanding the old map and cross-referencing it with the cemetery’s Excel records, Chronicle had an aerial survey of the cemetery performed.

Collaboration and Complexities – Lessons Learned in Jewish Cemetery Management Software

For this step, we worked with Geocgi to perform the aerial mapping. These geographic information system (GIS) experts – or geeks, if you prefer – visited the cemetery site and captured detailed drone images for Chronicle to use on our platform. They lent us their sharp focus and expertise with data and imaging that they’ve honed since 2006 as a geospatial consulting group, providing stunning and seamless, high quality visuals that exceeded our expectations at Chronicle.

Once the aerial survey was complete, the Chronicle team got round to the usual process of placing and labelling plots correctly, ensuring that the new digital map matches the original diagram. Again, however, the nature of this cemetery presented challenges.

The densely-packed cemetery, with its marvellous granite headstones serving as plot markers, offered a somewhat unique and complex digital mapping exercise. For instance, a single, long family headstone may cross two plots on one end of a grave, while single plaques mark the other end. In certain cases, plaques were oddly placed, sometimes sitting unevenly next to each other. 

Quickly learning that the real world sometimes laughs in the face of digital maps, the Chronicle team had to work with care to size up the plots of this intricate, complex layout. Without much leeway in terms of “blank space” between plots, the scrutinous work was eventually complete. As the many visual cues in the form of monuments and other landmarks dot the cemetery, they provide a lot to compare against when drawing digital cemetery plots. While this is helpful, it can also make the smallest mistake appear to be a glaring one.

An Alignment of Stars – The Result 

The result provided Jewish cemetery management software with a visual data map that was worthy of the spectacular, exquisite cemetery itself. Roy, the volunteer in charge of the digitisation process for the local Jewish community, is equally enthusiastic about the outcome. He worked with the Chronicle team from the beginning of the project, investing time and effort into collaborating with the team to help meet his objective of an accurate, aesthetically attractive digital cemetery. His quick feedback and clear communication meant that the Chronicle team had no trouble in aligning his goals with our output.

In fact, Roy has been hands-on throughout, to the point that we shared a version of our QGIS (desktop geographic information system) map with him. He’s been active in making suggestions for various software changes to meet his cemetery’s needs, while also performing his own edits and maneuvering on the map. “And Chronicle has been with us every step of the way, offering suggestions, making tweaks on their end, and promptly responding to our inquiries and requests. I could not be happier.” reports Roy, who describes himself as “a very satisfied and very impressed digital partner” in this endeavor.

A cemetery with the unique character, a long history and its own individual requirements like the Jewish Cemetery of the Virginia Peninsula is not uncommon. Find out how your cemetery’s unique challenges can have a tailored solution with our cemetery software!

Migration to Cemetery Mapping Software – The Yan Yean Cemetery Story

cemetery mapping software | yan yean cemetery | chronicle

Map and records search: Yan Yean Cemetery

  • Digitalised cemetery records
  • Physical survey of the cemetery grounds
  • Interactive online cemetery map
  • 24/7 online access to plot/cemetery information
  • Customised database management solutions delivered at a highly affordable price

Migration to Cemetery Mapping Software – the Yan Yean Cemetery Story

Located just outside of Whittlesea, less than an hour’s drive away from the Melbourne city centre, lies the Yan Yean Cemetery in all its idyllic splendour. Tucked among rolling green hills, this serene place of rest spans ten acres and a further 14 acres in development with over 8500 interments on the grounds.

Very much a functioning cemetery and integral part of the community’s legacy, the cemetery’s history began back in 1850: while the Yan Yean Reservoir embankment was being constructed, a labourer employed by contractor Joseph Martindale passed on. His body was laid to rest in the space that was soon to become the cemetery we know today. Officially, however, the first headstone, belonging to William Johnston, was constructed in 1858 and can be found nestled between a two-trunked oak tree in Compartment 2 of the cemetery.

The land that Yan Yean Cemetery sits on today was owned by one Dr. William Ronald who generously donated the ten tranquil acres for its use. Soon afterwards, in 1854, the first Trust Members were appointed – George Sherwin, Dr. William Ronald himself, and David Johnston. Thomas Hughes, John Gibson, and James Ryan were appointed later, in 1865. Five years later, in 1870, an addition was made to the cemetery in the form of a Sexton’s Lodge, following the employment of a Sexton with the purpose of revising the Interment Register – the same Sexton who designed the lodge. Today, the cemetery is growing rather rapidly, catering to the outer suburbs growth corridor of Melbourne.

Completing the Puzzle – The Yan Yean Cemetery Challenge

As a large, established cemetery which has been fairly well-organised from its very inception, Yan Yean Cemetery presented a unique situation for us at Chronicle. While we usually engage in managing a cemetery’s records, this wasn’t the case at Yan Yean Cemetery – they were happily using another software, for their cemetery records platform! At this point, they were looking for a simple cemetery software to integrate with their existing database, instead of replacing it. 

Marisa Ricardi, current administration manager of Yan Yean Cemetery is experienced in dealing with an institution of this magnitude. She previously worked at Box Hill Cemetery, another large cemetery in Melbourne, engaging with some of the foremost talents and software available. When she moved to Yan Yean Cemetery, she and the Trust decided that Chronicle was the best choice for her and the cemetery’s goals.

simple cemetery mapping software | yan yean cemetery | chronicle

Since Yan Yean Cemetery did not require their records to be managed with Chronicle, what services did they require? Yan Yean Cemetery needed a solution that simplifies the visualising and management of their assets (burial plots). They required Chronicle’s services in creating an online cemetery search (burial and plot search). Pre-Chronicle, they only had a PDF version of the cemetery map available on their website. This was far from anything interactive, and made it considerably difficult for people who wanted to visit the cemetery or purchase plots. Pre-Chronicle, the cemetery used an Excel grid for their map – a very challenging medium with which to work. The truth is, Excel grid maps do not represent reality. When compared to the aerial view of the cemetery, the discrepancies are immediately recognised. Even though Yan Yean Cemetery’s grid map was well-maintained, it only really made sense to the staff who worked with it frequently. 

The end goal? Yan Yean Cemetery wanted to drastically improve and streamline the way that they can visualise their assets and carry out burial searches. Marisa sought to have a clear picture of the cemetery’s plots, know at a glance who is buried where, what assets (plots) are available, and where they could inter new burials to come. She also wanted the public to be able to access and conduct deceased searches themselves through an online portal.

Surveying, Realignment, and Leaving Unsuitable Software

The first step in reaching Marisa’s and Yan Yean Cemetery goals was to create a digital interactive map. In doing so, Chronicle would be able to simplify the plot search capability for both the cemetery manager and other users.

digital cemetery mapping software | yan yean cemetery | chronicle

Plot measurements, alignments and mapping accuracy was the primary concern. The Chronicle team’s biggest challenge was relating the Excel plot grid to the aerial imagery and ensuring all plot IDs are consistent with the database.  After drawing 24.000 plots for Yan Yean Cemetery, we built a live integration with the previous software database, allowing the online Chronicle map to instantly reflect any changes to the records made by the admin team. During this process, there were many diagrams that needed to be moved and realigned. We had to do a fair amount of renumbering, too, and an update of the plot IDs so as to ensure they are accurate.

A survey of the cemetery had not been done previously, so mapping Yan Yean Cemetery required careful comparison with the Excel plot map on our side. As would be expected, this necessitated numerous discussions with Marisa to make sure that everything remained accurate.

How Cemetery Mapping Software Helps an Institution to Shine

After engaging with Chronicle to update Yan Yean Cemetery’s mapping software, Marisa is now able to make offline edits to the map and can request updates from the Chronicle team whenever necessary. The ability to constantly improve upon cemetery records and mapping accuracy is a constant, active process – as is the case with any cemetery digitisation project. Chronicle offers these tools to cemetery managers. It’s not always possible to rectify errors right from the start. When compared to Excel, if you’re to rectify an error in one file, this fix doesn’t necessarily carry over to other related files. Great cemetery mapping software alleviates this unnecessary workload and ensures that annotations are uniform – able to be understood intuitively by the next person.

online cemetery mapping software | yan yean cemetery | chronicle

For a professional organisation like Yan Yean Cemetery, their management team deserves the ease-of-use and error-reducing software that Chronicle provides. It’s due to their organised and disciplined ethos that our team was able to help them achieve their goals relatively quickly. The project took approximately 45 days! In comparison, when working with previous clients, we spent two months before being able to confidently get started on drawing their cemetery map.

Our quick work with Yan Yean Cemetery is testament to quick communication between our CEO, Matt Borowski, and the analyst, as well as the team’s speed in creating an accurate plot map platform. Even though Yan Yean Cemetery already had an organised database, it wasn’t visible for visitors or anyone but the cemetery’s management team. The Chronicle team has helped to unveil the many stellar features of the institution through an aesthetically-pleasing, accurate, and intuitive interactive map. We can help you visualise and share your records, no matter the current status. Book a free consultation now to find out how.

The Revival of Broadford Cemetery through Renovation and Digital Cemetery Software

Ever Evolving – The Revival of Broadford Cemetery through Renovation and Digital Cemetery Software

Size of Cemetery: Small

  • Digitalised cemetery records
  • Physical survey of the cemetery grounds
  • Interactive online cemetery map
  • 24/7 online access to plot/cemetery information
  • Customised database management solutions delivered at a highly affordable price

Situated in Broadford, Victoria, the Broadford Cemetery can be found on Piper Street. Administered by the Broadford Cemetery Trust, overseen by the Department of Human Services, this cemetery has been the final resting place to over 2,000 people since their first recorded burial in July 1858. This was just thirty four years after the town’s first Europeans, Hume and Hovell, passed through in 1824 and climbed to the summit of a nearby mountain, giving it the unfortunate name, “Mount Disappointment”. 

The district, however, had been home for thousands of years, prior to the first European settlers, by the Taungurong people, while many pioneering families buried here have descendants still living in the town today. After the Second World War, migrants –  who contributed immensely and are well represented in the cemetery – called Broadford home, after experiencing the horrors of war.Since its conception in 1867, the cemetery has been managed by a Trust – announced by the Government Gazette –  with representatives from each of the churches. Today, the cemetery’s Trustees offer various skills and knowledge as they come from all walks of life.

About 50 years after the Government Gazette’s announcement about Broadford Cemetery’s Trustees, it disclosed that a further two acres of land were to be reserved for the cemetery in  1914. These two acres were purchased and being used by 1918. Even though the cemetery saw tough times in the 1950, when most of the cemetery’s records were lost, the dedicated Trust held one map until a few years ago when an old map was rediscovered, helping to locate some of the unmarked graves. Broadford Cemetery is part and parcel of the community, the quiet soul of its locality. In fact, community members hold the institution in high regard, valuing the role it plays in preserving Broadford’s heritage. Attesting to this is the sign board outside the cemetery gates, thanking the many families who made donations towards beautifying the cemetery.

Duplicate Disorder – Clearing the Path to Simple Cemetery Software

With approximately 2300 plots at Broadford Cemetery, the Chronicle team had to roll up their sleeves when facing the task of cleaning up the historic records that were extracted from the cemetery’s outdated website and partially supplied in Excel files.

The plot IDs of cemetery records did not always match the plans, while the website lookup created many duplicate entries, resulting in much detective work for us to determine the truth of the plot numbering. Due to the age of the cemetery, gaps were present in the records and the supplied spreadsheet was incomplete. For Chronicle to know which individual was interred in a particular plot, it was necessary that we referred back to the original scanned plans.

To achieve the polished, easy-to-navigate result that you’d be looking for in cemetery database software, these records and issues needed to be sorted and clarified before being ready for use and integrated in Broadford Cemetery’s digitalised platform.

Patience, Planning, and Scanning

Our team spent long, arduous hours performing quality checks and correcting the data in the supplied records. This went hand-in-hand with scanning cemetery maps – manually. Meticulous work and a keen eye was required for a task of this nature. Copious levels of patience were necessary, too, as the supplied Excel spreadsheet lacked some plot IDs. Again, the team worked manually to check each name, one by one, as they inspected all the plans and diagrams to ensure corresponding descriptions.

Creating a stunning visual and informative experience for visitors of Broadford Cemetery to experience, now, posed no trouble. We simply transferred plot data over to our geographic information system (GIS) map. When plot IDs in the records match plot IDs in the GIS, cemetery mapping software is able to transform into a visually appealing, user-friendly platform.

Broadford Cemetery had a number of requirements for their ideal cemetery management software solution. The cemetery required accurate cemetery database software that provides an interface which can be understood at a glance. Additionally, they wanted the database to be moved to cloud storage for 24/7 access on one, single platform.

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Revival and Reimagining – The Result of Intuitive Cemetery Database Software

It took time, but the result of digitising Broadford Cemetery’s database and creating the new plot map is a successful implementation of our cemetery management software platform.

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Today, Broadford Cemetery’s management team find that editing and updating their records is simpler – Chronicle’s software facilitates this, along with a healthy perspective of continuous improvement. While no cemetery can boast perfect records, Brian and the Trustees of Broadford Cemetery now enjoy a mostly correct database. The Chronicle team’s hours of meticulous work was a triumph! The cemetery was mapped correctly, with all plots placed where they should be.

While their old spreadsheets haven’t quite been done away with yet. If need be, Brian and the Broadford Cemetery administrators can use them as a reference. Meanwhile, for daily management of the cemetery, Brian only needs to log in and tap on the plot he needs to update or edit on the institution’s updated, simple cemetery software.

The lawns and gardens of Broadford Cemetery have been steadily flourishing since the beginning of the 21st century and today their records and maps are revamped and transformed. Brian and visitors to Broadford Cemetery, alike, can now view and navigate through the entire cemetery map simply, with access to relevant plot details in an instant.

 

Photo source: all credits belong to Ted Tiboni

Preserving Maple Hill Cemetery’s Heritage with Simple Cemetery Software

simple cemetery software | maple hill cemetery | chronicle

Scandinavian Haven – Preserving Maple Hill Cemetery’s Heritage with simple cemetery software

Size of Cemetery: Small

Map and records search: Maple Hill Cemetery Online Digital Map

  • Digitalised cemetery records
  • Physical survey of the cemetery grounds
  • Interactive online cemetery map
  • 24/7 online access to plot/cemetery information
  • Customised database management solutions delivered at a highly affordable price

Located in Minnesota, USA, about 5 miles away from Grand Marais, one will find the sanctuary that is Maple Hill Cemetery. Closer to the Canadian border than it is to the nearest large American city, Duluth, Maple Hill Cemetery overlooks the spectacular, sparkling next to the cemetery’s picturesque, white church.

The former Lutheran Church, now a historic building is the cemetery’s landmark, and the two were established around the same time as each other near the turn of the twentieth century. 

While it is the largest local cemetery, Maple Hill Cemetery can be categorised as a small cemetery, relatively. Its history is tied to the family of the institution’s current chairman, Howard. 

It was Howard’s grandparents who donated land with the intention of establishing both the cemetery and its spiritual centre, the church. As is fitting, Howard’s late grandparents rest in the founders’ plot of Maple Hill Cemetery. Today, Maple Hill Cemetery is run by volunteers as a non-profit organisation, is open to all denominations, and does both burials and cremations.

As can be seen from the aesthetic of the church, Maple Hill Cemetery exhibits a distinctly Scandinavian heritage. Immigrants from Sweden, in particular, are honoured at Maple Hill Cemetery. On the headstones of those interred on the grounds are names that boast this Swedish heritage – Ericsson, Haglund, Ellquist, Berglund, Bjornlund, and Hedlund are but a few. The region’s Native American history is also revered here, with those from the land’s original inhabitants also interred at Maple Hill cemetery.

As winter gives way to spring, the pinks and violets of phlox petals adorn the cemetery grounds, accenting the green tones of the grass and foliage.

Gaps in Time – Inaccuracies in Maple Hill Cemetery’s Records

The earliest interment record for Maple Hill Cemetery is dated December, 1898, making this cemetery well over a century old. A cemetery that has been around for over 120 years brings with it numerous paper records and ledgers that are ageing and need to be handled with care. Chairman of Maple Hill Cemetery, Howard, confirms that the age of the records are not the only issue that has created problems for the cemetery’s records management. Over the years, negligence has added to the cemetery’s woes in keeping accurate cemetery records.

For Howard, inaccurate cemetery records can be attributed to two contextual causes – concerns regarding funding for upkeep (due to the cemetery being small in both size and number of burials a year) and the cemetery’s operation reliant on volunteers. In terms of volunteer operation, this brings a unique set of issues.

Maintaining records, laying out graves and markers, and general upkeep present challenges. The volunteer demographic is an ageing one – finding new volunteers with the time to help with cemetery’s management work is difficult, and is exacerbated by the fact that it takes time to train new people on how to keep the books and how the layout of burial lots works. This had left Maple Hill Cemetery with numerous mistakes and gaps in their paper records that created further problems when Howard and the other volunteers sought to sell plots to clients with accurate information that he could rely on.

cemetery database software | maple hill cemetery | chronicle

They realised that a solution was required, sooner rather than later! It was imperative that he found simple cemetery software that could assist Maple Hill Cemetery in maintaining accurate records – both to gain new clients and to dutifully honour and preserve the memory of the region’s rich history. While great cemetery database software helps with the day-to-day operations of an institution like Maple Hill Cemetery, it was also a lifeline for the community’s heritage and legacy, saving it from being lost to time and consequence.

Together with the Chronicle team, Howard embarked on a journey of digitising the cemetery’s records – paper, ledgers, and Excel spreadsheets. It was a difficult start for Chronicle, as the years of record keeping that relied on various volunteers resulted in inconsistencies. These inconsistencies included misalignment between the spreadsheet data and the scanned map plans. It proved complex, but we worked with Howard to clarify which individual was interred in a particular plot by separating plot IDs (ID, section, and block) from the personal details of the interred individual so as to rectify these misalignments.

Another challenge that was to be considered was the date system. Australia employs the DD/MM/YYYY date format, while the USA uses the MM/DD/YYYY format. This had to be noted, as it could significantly impact the data in Maple Hill Cemetery’s cemetery database. Fortunately, the software allows for this variance in format and Howard has encountered no format problems when moving his records to Chronicle.

How Did Chronicle Fix Maple Hill Cemetery’s Management and Mapping Problems?

Maple Hill Cemetery’s records management problems were not unique. Many cemeteries around the globe are suffering from inaccuracies between their maps and records, caused in part by negligence over the years and a lack of training or understanding of the operations process by new volunteers. People want to help and do the best that they can, but working with disjointed and non-uniform record-keeping has created confusion and further inaccuracies with time.

Easy-to-understand, simple cemetery software was the solution to these issues. Chronicle delivered, along with an interface that promotes easy record keeping that is aligned with a visual map of the cemetery. The user experience that Maple Hill Cemetery gained from our software offers Howard and his prospective clients a beautiful map of the cemetery with easily-identifiable visuals to indicate plots that are occupied, reserved, or available.

We cleaned up the cemetery’s records, digitised them, and they’re now stored in one place – the cloud. Whether Howard makes changes to records, or volunteers do, all changes are tracked and can be easily reached from any device, whether they’re physically at the cemetery or not.

cemetery records software | maple hill | chronicle

Moving Forward with User-Friendly Cemetery Database Software

It took at least a month and half to digitise Maple Hill Cemetery’s records, working to unify data across Excel spreadsheets, ledgers, and paper documents, making efforts to fill in the gaps and inconsistencies between the scanned maps and records.

When the maps were initially drawn, it turned out that they were somewhat off-scale. It was a hiccup that Chronicle worked through, with advice from Howard and Maple Hill Cemetery, and we endeavoured to improve scaling by making the necessary adjustments.

Since our last conversation with Howard, Maple Hill Cemetery’s management is running smoothly. No major challenges have been reported, and Howard appears to be more than satisfied with the app’s performance and our after-sale assistance. For him and his volunteers, the map feature helps to easily visualise the location of the plots, enhanced by the colour-coded feature to indicate reserved, available, or occupied plots. Making edits and inputting be information is an easy, straightforward process, too. 

Howard sees that the transition to a digital platform of cemetery management is required all across the United States. Taking those first steps in digitising your cemetery records is simple – sign up and try Chronicle’s cemetery management software to see the potential to preserve the heritage of your community.

“I did a lot of research before selection Chronicle. The features, value, and the great personal
attention were what sold me. The software has taken us from poorly maintained paper records to the digital age. The best thing is the visual aspect, being able to see our cemetery, and have all the lots color coded, so that we can see at a glance what is occupied or vacant. The search featureis great, it take you right to the grave!” – Howard, Maple Hill Cemetery
 

Photo source: all credits belong to Ted Tiboni

How Macedon Transformed Its Documentation with Cemetery Software

Macedon Cemetery Case Study Header 3 | Cemetery Software | Cemetery Mapping & Management Software | Chronicle

Achieving Impeccable Data – How Macedon Transformed Its Documentation with Cemetery Mapping Software

Size of Cemetery: Small-Medium

Map and Records Search: Macedon Cemetery Online Digital Map

  • Digitalised cemetery records
  • Physical survey of the cemetery grounds
  • Interactive online cemetery map
  • 24/7 online access to plot/cemetery information
  • Customised database management solutions delivered at a highly affordable price

Macedon Cemetery holds a special place in the hearts of the residents of the Macedon Ranges in Victoria, Australia. The historical significance of its past lives on through Macedon’s monuments and headstones, creating an enduring, living history which contributes positively to the social and cultural heritage of its surroundings. The past permeates into the present at Macedon Cemetery, where stone and exquisite flora come together to bring an experience to visitors of this cemetery.

Among its many sights, the Laurence Matheson tomb brings a distinctive charm to Macedon. Laurence “Laurie” Matheson, “Australia’s James Bond”, was a self-made millionaire, known for his role in the Ivanov scandal, passed away in 1987. His tomb is ornamented with a creation from Peter Schipperheyn, at the behest of Laurence’s widow, Christina Matheson, and is just one of the sights in the tranquil visions to behold at Macedon Cemetery. It’s idyllic, but managing an institution like this traditionally comes with a host of issues that can be overcome with versatile cemetery management software.

The Macedon Cemetery Challenge

Macedon Cemetery presented a host of challenges to Chronicle as they began their cemetery mapping software journey with us – one of our first clients, we might add.

In fact, Macedon Cemetery approached Matthew Borowski, soon to be Founder of Chronicle, to assist in surveying the cemetery – they were not looking for anything specific or specialised for cemetery management. Their initial requirements simply included a traditional survey with an accompanying standard map of the cemetery in PDF format. Macedon Cemetery was the catalyst that produced a shift in the cemetery industry – Matthew quickly saw the existing, intriguing problems within the industry, regarding mapping, managing data, and sharing cemetery records.

Macedon Cemetery | Cemetery Mapping Software | Chronicle
Link: Visit Macedon Cemetery in Chronicle

When looking at the traditional, or “conventional” (we prefer using the term “outdated”) methods of documentation that Macedon Cemetery was using, the issues quickly came to the surface.

Nick, Macedon Cemetery’s Secretary, relied on Excel sheets,  together with old ledgers, paper diagrams and files to organise the data of this old cemetery. This was all before Chronicle – this quiet bastion of Victoria’s heritage and history deserved better. Chronicle soon realized that we needed to combine these two conventional methods of mapping plots and organising cemetery data and transform them.

The goal? Macedon Cemetery’s records and plot mapping needed sophisticated, clutter-free cemetery mapping software using a geographic information system (GIS), while also being simple enough for anyone who uses the system.

Macedon Cemetery - Common Difficulties

Remember, while management of the system performed by cemetery administrators, the maps and tables must also be accessible and easily understood by members of the public – those who come to visit their loved ones, or passers-by who want to appreciate the legacy of the area.

With this in mind, the map and table have to be perfectly in-sync. A visitor’s experience is important, as is the user experience for cemetery administrators.

Before Chronicle, like many cemeteries, Macedon Cemetery had inaccurate documentation and a mismatch between its maps and tables. It was sometimes found that a deceased individual may have been recorded to be resting in a particular plot, but when their family visits, it was found that the person is interred elsewhere – or that a completely different person is interred in that particular grave. Distressing for the family, frustrating and embarrassing for the cemetery administrator.

Disconnected – Solving the Illusion of Accuracy in a Modern World

Old, often indecipherable, ledgers are a cause of tension headaches for cemetery management. They can be difficult to read, add clutter, and it takes the time of going through a big book to find the info that you’re looking for.

In an effort to digitise old ledgers, Nick – like many cemetery managers – had previously hired someone to sort through the information in those ledgers and port it all to an Excel spreadsheet. This sounds well and good on the surface, but we’ve often found, like Nick did, that missing names, data, addresses, and numbers get carried through to Excel and are not synonymous with accurate, synchronised cemetery mapping software. This, in conjunction with incorrect mapping in the first place, created a compounded problem for Macedon Cemetery – the illusion of accurate data can be even worse than visibly inaccurate data.

How Chronicle Fixed Macedon’s Cemetery Management and Mapping

How did Chronicle achieve the goal that we set out to achieve, transforming Macedon Cemetery’s documentation from inaccurate to impeccable?

First, we acquired an extremely detailed overview (quite literally) of the entire cemetery, using high-quality satellite imaging and later completing a drone survey. To capture every nook and cranny of Macedon Cemetery, making sure that no spot is missed.

Once a visual representation of the cemetery was complete, we need to incorporate this with Macedon Cemetery’s existing records so the full capacity of the cemetery management software could be utilised. The connection between the physical plots and data from the old ledgers and spreadsheets needed to be made more accurate and complete. Chronicle consolidated the data between the old ledgers and online records, ensuring that the locations of the plots were accurate. In time, Nick was able to find the details associated with a specific plot with a click of a button (or a tap on the screen – whichever is more convenient at any given time).

Nick got the hang of this simple cemetery software quickly and was soon confident to publish records and update data on the platform himself. For him and the Macedon Cemetery Trustees, Chronicle’s cemetery management software allows for a journey of continuous improvement. This is an institution which needs to manage thousands of records, spanning more than a century of human efforts to accurately (or, often hastily) record interment details.

macedon cemetery | cemetery mapping & management software | Chronicle

Nick, and visitors alike, can now easily access the data that they’re looking for. There’s no longer a need to cross-reference three different spreadsheets, look through paper ledgers, and peruse PDFs – all while surveying the cemetery’s map. For Macedon Cemetery, it’s important to recognise that with Chronicle, they have begun an optimistic journey of steady and continual iteration towards impeccable records.

A New Age for Macedon with Cemetery Management Software

Once the work was done on our side, Nick’s job became a lot easier. Chronicle put in the intense work, going back and forth over several months to ensure that the data was compiled and consolidated accurately, synced with the physical plot locations.

Now, for visitors to Macedon Cemetery, finding the headstone of their loved ones is just that much easier. Chronicle’s process of digitising the cemetery’s old records means that at Macedon Cemetery, 98% of data and records are processed and available to access at any time. Chronicle’s interface is integrated with Macedon Cemetery’s website, allowing online visitors to directly view records of anyone interred at the cemetery.

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On the visual side, Chronicle used GIS to provide data-driven, beautiful visuals to Macedon Cemetery. It makes the experience of finding plots simpler and more intuitive – for both Macedon Cemetery’s administrators and visitors. Easily and accurately locating burial plots is combined with the software’s ability to seamlessly display information, stories, and headstone photos for each burial plot.

We’re proud about being able to help Nick solve his frustrations that came with conventional methods of sorting data and plot details with Chronicle. To experience it for yourself, sign up and try Chronicle’s cemetery management software now!

I’m increasingly using Chronicle to follow up and find the place I’m looking for. It’s really working well. I’m pleased with it. When there’s a question from people I just ask them to open the Chronicle website and they can get the information that they need.” – Nick, Secretary, Macedon Cemetery