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

Migration to Cemetery Mapping Software – The Yan Yean Cemetery Story

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.

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.

How Macedon Transformed Its Documentation with Cemetery Software

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.

macedoncentercemetery 1 | Cemetery Mapping Software | Cemetery Management Modern | Chronicle.rip
macedoncentercemetery 2 | Cemetery Mapping Software | Cemetery Management | Chronicle.rip

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