Aerial Photo of Cemetery on Ocean Edge

How to Make a Cemetery Plotting Map

The things you need to consider when preparing to digitally map your cemetery.
September 29, 2020

Cemetery mapping, or cemetery plotting map,  is a favorite phrase these days – but what does it mean for you and your business? There is no doubt that having a digitally mapped cemetery will help your business manage inventory and provide much-needed guidance to visitors, but where do you start when considering how to make a cemetery plot map? Moreover, what is the most practical way to proceed for your cemetery or crematorium? Below we look at what to consider when making a cemetery map.

The right now, what do you have?

The first step is to review what your current status is. Do you have access to the original drawings showing plots on your site? If so, you need to review these and consider; are they accurate, do they resemble the actual geography of your site? Are they complete, or do you suspect there are parts of your cemetery that have been used for burials but are not shown on your maps?

If like many cemeteries, the records and plans have been lost or damaged over the years, you only have a few decades of maps. In this instance, unless you can find plot drawings recorded by the council or a local parish, you need to start again. Review all gravestones and memorial plaques in the cemetery note their GPS coordinates, and then you can begin considering overlaying this information on something like Google Maps. If you suspect there are unmarked graves, you may need to look at getting a Ground Penetrating Radar expert to scan the land.

Find the gaps you have so you can see if this information can be sourced elsewhere, either using historical records or perhaps engaging members of the community to assist in locating unmarked graves. Your local council or government might be able to help, or the local churches and graveyards. It would be most unusual that any cemetery would have access to all records since their inception, given the fragile nature of paper documents.

The future, what do you want?

Chances are there is some imperative driving you to want a cemetery plot map, but ideally, long term, what are you hoping to achieve from a graveyard map? It could be to ensure your records are accurate, show all burial and memorialization sites so these can easily be identified to your sales team, or provide historical information to families and your community about the people buried at your location. Alternatively, to preserve your records by having everything online so you can archive all your original documents and stop them from sustaining further damage.

Dream big and then consider the practicalities of your situation, which we will look at next. You might be surprised how much of your wish list can be accommodated in some way right now with the chance to expand this in the future.

Are you wanting to have a self-service kiosk at the cemetery entrance showing where individual graves/memorials are? Do you want a clean map showing the status of all plots within your grounds, so your sales teams know immediately what is available, pre-sold, and occupied? Do you want your sales team to be able to identify nearby botanical species when looking at memorialization within the cemetery? Beyond graveyard mapping, are you looking for a comprehensive solution to manage your cemetery, including finances, customer relationships, marketing automation, business analytics, and much more?

Quote "There is no doubt a cemetery plotting map will bring a new audience to your cemetery or crematoria, online and in persons."

How to proceed?

By now, you have researched your current state, considered what your ideal future would look like – so you probably also know what your options are for a cemetery plot template and if you can plot your cemetery internally or you need to seek external help.

If you are lucky enough to have an amazingly engaged community around you, they may be able to bring their own skills and expertise to assist with a cemetery map for your site. Alternatively, it may be that you need to seek a professional partner skilled at digital mapping to help you. Nowadays, cemetery mapping is done with drones flying oversights, then recording GPS markers against the plots and geographical features within a cemetery – so pretty much anything is possible. However, finding the right partner and the right solution for your cemetery is essential.

The how… can I resource and fund this?

Many cemeteries are facing falling revenue with an increase in cremation and competition. Having a plotting map gives your business the ability to bring a new audience to your cemetery and promote your business by having searchable deceased records, easy to follow maps, and a clear and cataloged inventory.

However, right now, your budget may not be looking as big as your plans. In addition to working with your local community and church groups, you can also approach your local government for grants, historical or otherwise. Have you reached out to the state cemetery association? Have you considered uniting with surrounding cemeteries, which may allow you to negotiate a better (and cheaper) plan for plotting your cemetery? Alternatively, maybe there are local families with a long history with your cemetery who may be willing to help fund or co-fund your project.

Conclusion – it is possible, but planning is key

As with any project to implement change, you need a plan – identify your current status, future wishes, and practically what would best serve your business based on your budget and resources right now. There is no doubt a cemetery plotting map will bring a new audience to your cemetery or crematoria, online and in persons. It might also help your business expand revenue by identifying your available plots and placed for memorizations. Identifying Points of Interest within your grounds allowing you to promote these through historical (architectural, celebrity, and much more) tours.

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