Inaccurate to Impeccable Data – How Macedon Transformed Its Documentation with Cemetery Mapping Software

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.

Chronicle Digital Cemetery Software

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Macedon Cemetery macedon naked lady memorial Mediumpresented 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.

When looking at the traditional, or “conventional” (we prefer using the term “outdated”) methods of documentation that Macedon Cemetery was using, the issues quickly came to the surface.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 Inaccuracy

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, Macedon Cemetery suffered from inaccurate documentation and a mismatch between its maps and tables. It was often found that a deceased individual may have been recorded and shown 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

macedoncentercemetery 1How did Chronicle achieve the goal that we set out to achieve, transforming Macedon’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.

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.

This article was contributed by Chronicle  Digital Cemetery Software

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