Dead lost? Or just looking for the dead? It can be a problem in a cemetery where over 80,000 people are buried. At our Rocket City Geospatial Conference last week, Huntsville’s GIS Department sought to rectify this problem for relatives looking to find gravesites at Maple Hill Cemetery, one of the oldest in Alabama. Spanning over 100 acres, the cemetery opened in 1822. Information from each gravesite was originally recorded on scrolls in the form of a rough sketch that mapped block, lot and space number. The city’s GIS department pulled this information into a CAD system to create a digital cemetery layout (See photo at right; click for larger image). From there shape files were generated in which attribution can be attached. But according to Amy Keenum, the GIS analyst, developing the database was a nightmare! Data was first entered into an Access database and then into a SQL database for networking to the remainder of the city’s GIS. Now, a web-based solution, designed using active server pages and GeoMedia Web Map, allows visitors to the cemetery’s website to search by name, burial block and space. Now looking for specific cemetery plots is no longer such a grave experience.
MapQuest for the Dead