Map and records search: Cootamundra Gundagai Regional Cemetery
Location: New South Wales, Australia
- 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
For some individual cemeteries, the idea of digitising their processes onto a single cemetery management software platform may appear, at first, to be an insurmountable task. Here at Chronicle, however, we’ve shown how this task is very much possible – all it takes is commitment to the task and the right team at your side. Having a secure, cloud-based, digital cemetery without the difficulty to read paper records and inaccurate maps is not just possible for a single cemetery – we’re able to migrate multiple cemeteries onto a single, unified platform easily, as well.
For all of cemeteries under Cootamundra Gundagai Regional Council New South Wales (NSW) Australia, mapping and records management is an ongoing, rewarding process as results are proving. The majority of the cemeteries under this council have been digitised, so we’ve been in touch with Janelle Chapman, Senior Regulatory Officer, and Glen McAtear, Acting General Manager at Cootamundra Gundagai Regional Council to find out their thoughts on what this means for cemeteries they manage under the council.
Understanding Australian Local Government Cemetery Processes to Overcome Challenges
Naturally, the goal of cemetery managers is to engage more meaningfully with their respective communities, with the responsibility of preserving the legacy of those communities and offering the public a smooth experience through some of the most difficult times. For managers of multiple cemeteries, they usually have their work cut out for them on the administration front. Dealing with maintaining accurate records for one cemetery is infamously difficult to do the traditional way; manually, with pen and paper. Even with Excel spreadsheets at their disposal, this resource is notorious for offering the illusion of accuracy, but often leads to many of the same challenges of having to go back and forth between spreadsheets and cemetery plot maps to verify that records are accurate.
Janelle at Cootamundra Gundagai Regional Council was quite aware of how her records might have made sense to her but might not have necessarily made sense to others. It’s often the case when a manager is familiar with their workflow and subject matter (each cemetery is different) that their specific process is not immediately understood by the next person. She describes this as one the challenges she faced when embarking on the digitisation process.
When liaising with Andi, Chronicle’s Account Manager, Janelle found that her challenge was to be able to express how she visualised the data and what it means when uploading it to the cloud – before it became visually represented on the digital map itself. Acquiring a high resolution aerial map using drones is among the first steps in the cemetery digitisation process. Having this map, with a high level of zoom all the way, played a major part in achieving the clarity to know what’s happening among the headstones in every corner of the map.
Saving Time, Eliminating Frustration
Taking this into consideration, the idea of maintaining accuracy for multiple cemeteries – sometimes even 10 or more – under the same council can be daunting. This, coupled with the need to be confident in presenting available plots to potential customers, along with the responsibility to preserve a community’s history across a municipality, is a challenge that only those managers really understand. If you’re one of those managers, you’re probably all too familiar with the frustrations of everyday processes and record-keeping, as well that feeling of dread when the phone rings and it’s an inquiry regarding the status of a plot.
At the cemeteries under the Cootamundra Gundagai Council, the time-saving aspect of having a simple, unified system on which to add information or edit existing data is among the most important benefits for Janelle and Glen. Being able to instantly add relevant information to a plot, once, and having it reflect across the council’s cemetery records means that there’s nothing to worry about anymore. Janelle explains that there’s no more concern about where she might have written something. Although she still keeps records in spreadsheets, she knows that she doesn’t need to go back to check on them.
When communicating with a funeral director, cemetery attendant or excavator, conveying that a plot is booked takes seconds and is accomplished with surety, too. This also extends to the issue of monumental permits. As a comparison, before Chronicle, Janelle had to physically drive to the cemetery to have a look at a grave and take photos to send over to the mason. She’d then have to return and draw a map to the grave in question. The process used to take 2 to 3 days by the time she’d get back and send approval. Things have changed. It’s all done in a matter of minutes now – Janelle sends over a link to the grave which the mason can easily navigate to. He checks on the grave, and gets the go-ahead. Even the mason is impressed.
Digitisation - A Journey Never Taken Alone
While you might not know where to start when thinking about digitising multiple council cemeteries, there’s always help along the way. Many cemetery managers are now familiar with the assistance they receive from the Chronicle team throughout their digitisation journey – from their initial interest in the platform until well after their cemetery has been digitised. This is the experience of multiple-cemetery institutions, too – no matter where they are along their digitisation journey. Whether your cemeteries are still using manual processes with paper ledgers or data has already been imported to Excel spreadsheets, you’ll receive tailored assistance throughout.
Janelle appreciates the personal experience of the digitisation process, especially since she’s built a relationship with the person who helps her out – it’s not just a faceless email correspondence. Being on the same page with someone who has real experience and knew what she meant if something had to be moved or removed, for example, made a world of difference. Knowing that a full historical backup of data can be requested if she likes, at any time, gives her peace of mind, too.
Community First - Cootamundra Gundagai Regional Council New South Wales (NSW) Australia Cemeteries Mapping and Records Management
At the end of the day, the goal of the council is to serve the community. When day-to-day tasks take up time that could otherwise be spent more meaningfully, every council cemetery manager knows the feeling of getting bogged down in mundane, tedious tasks. The right cemetery software saves time, yes, but Chronicle gives you the ability to be efficient while offering your community a platform on which to showcase its proud legacy.
The functional aspects of the software that your council chooses for its cemeteries should be powerful. With the specific needs of cemetery managers and the requirements set out by many states in Australia and the United States, for example, maintaining accurate records and data on an intuitive, easy-to-use platform goes without saying. This, combined with a high standard of aerial mapping and grave coordinate survey can turn good cemetery mapping software into powerful cemetery mapping software.
Innovation and creativity go hand-in-hand with being able to offer a simple way to manage multiple cemeteries on one platform for the Council. While offering extensive admin tools like event and work orders, allowing you to create and assign tasks, view the cemetery event calendar, create certificates, and so on, Chronicle software also offers something more. Your council’s digital cemetery platform is for your staff as well as for your community. This is one of the reasons that the stunning, interactive map is now optimised for mobile.
Legacies Preserved, Seamlessly
Smartphones and the modern world are seamlessly integrated, so Chronicle has successfully integrated the cemetery experience with mobile devices, too. Now, visitors are able to find the grave of a loved one with the walk-to-plot navigation feature, guiding them to the headstone at which they want to pay their respects. While cemeteries are open even outside of office hours, this makes the lives of staff members far easier. It’s possible to serve your community, simply, even if you’re not able to be there at the time. For plot sales, this feature allows potential clients the ability to visualise the cemetery or visit a plot they’re interested in at a time that’s most convenient to them, using the guided cemetery tour on their smartphones. For the council, the Deceased Story feature on Chronicle’s map makes the legacy of the community much simpler to access and to share, allowing photos, eulogies, and life stories of individuals to be uploaded.
The new, digital Cootamundra Gundagai Regional Council cemetery platform offers the community and council that sense of ownership. For the community and public, they truly feel that their legacy is theirs – it’s part of them and it’s about them. Being able to preserve and access novel stories from the community provides the public with a sense of ownership over their history.
If you want to know more about managing multiple council and municipal cemeteries under one management tool, click here to discuss the tailored steps to begin the project with our digital cemetery experts.