Halloween Special: Geodata will outlast yourself!

October 31st, 2021 | by Andreas Richter

(3 min read)

“Cemetery road, no exit.” Directly from motorhome to the tomb. Not sure if the indoor skydiving is located so close to the cemetery on purpose. (Queenstown, image by Andreas Richter)

This is a Halloween special not a Fools’ Day special. Thus, you can belief all the scary facts we are presenting here!

Digitalization is a mega-trend and without it, automated driving, integrated city planning and mobility as a service won’t work. For that, old paper plans and areal images were digitalized, new surveying methods such as mobile mapping are used and a lot of video and photo data is collected with panoramic cameras and drones. All these heterogeneous data (regarding spatial and temporal accuracy) is linked or fused to create a digital twin. For the automotive domain the traffic area is in focus. One issue with data is that if you have gathered them, they are more or less immediately outdated. OK, to be exact it depends on the type of the data. Road topology is not changing as fast as road infrastructure or as traffic conditions. But sometimes geodata can be very stable and outlast yourself.

Let’s get a little bit creepier. Let’s talk about death and have a look at cemeteries! The mega-trend digitalization is merciless and spares no one. Not even your death! We are not referring to the electronic medical report but to the final resting place…

Cemeteries are getting digitalized as well. With the help of old paper plans and modern surveying methods (drones and ground-penetrating radar) the site and the history of their “local residents” are gathered and stored in a digital database management system. In such a system you can link assets and search for specific attributes easily. Also planning and reserving of new plots is simply done online. Additionally, you can combine this asset management with the biodiversity management and connect or add vegetation cadaster.

One extraordinary example is the Highgate Cemetery in London using a Burial Ground Management System (BGMS). The cemetery itself is active since 1839, and serves 53,000 graves at an area of 150,000 m2. Famous persons including Karl Marx, Douglas Adams, Michael Faraday and Alexander Litwinenko are buried there. And also some rare species such as the spider species “Egyptian Avenue” can be found there.
But, setting up a database management system isn’t an end to itself. It’s also not done just for the purpose of operating the cemetery in a more modern way. It supports additional use cases such as data research for customers, too. Highgate Cemetery requests a fee of £40 for a “grave search”. Genealogy as business model is gaining more and more interest. It is the second most popular online hobby in the US!

Other cemeteries are using the Cemetery Information Management System (CIMS) with a freely accessible font end. Have a look at the Emanu El Memorial Park in Houston, TX or the Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City, IA. If you zoom in, you can access all the plots, see who is buried there and since when (or query birth date and sex) and find available spaces if interested.
Genealogy is such an interesting business case that it is possible to connect CIMS to Saleforce (provides a complementary suite of enterprise applications focused on customer service, marketing automation, analytics, and application development) for more serious Customer Relationship Management! Who would have thought that?
For “customers” you can add timelines for personalization of the entries of the buried persons or include an online condolence possibility. Especially in the times of traveling restriction this could be a good feature to alleviate mourning.

But also and not only on Halloween cemetery tourism is a growing activity. Often the cemetery grounds are beautiful parks and inviting to stroll and enjoy the peacefulness. It can be connected with digitally accessible information about nature and history, included in stories and guided tours! Cemeteries such as the Highgate Cemetery in London, Vienna Central Cemetery, Mirogoj in Zagreb, Ohlsdorfer Cemetery in Hamburg or Le Cimetière du Père-Lachaise in Paris are definitely worth a visit!

What do you think? Is the digitalization of cemeteries and the creation of cemetery business cases trick or treat? GEONATIVES wish everybody a happy Halloween!

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