Chesham Town Council identifies potential new income of £12 000 by effectively managing its cemetery using Ordnance Survey’s highly-detailed, large-scale mapping, via Pear Technology’s cemetery management system.
Chesham cemetery opened in 1858, before digital mapping existed. Since then, the council relied on hand-drawn inaccurate maps, which meant the council often found the situation on the ground was very different to that shown on its maps. This led to inaccuracies in the number of plots believed available and the length of time before sections of the cemetery would become full. Another challenge for the council was to help the public locate the graves of their loved ones.
In 2010 Pear Technology employees worked with the town council to create a bespoke cemetery map, based on OS MasterMap® Topography Layer. The geographical information system (GIS) enabled the council’s GIS Officer to plot and number the grave spaces within the cemetery. The council indicated on the map whether the plots had been reserved, had remains interred within them, or were available. The council can now easily establish how many plots it has remaining. This has already enabled the creation of new grave spaces in the consecrated sections of the cemetery, which were approaching capacity. Throughout the cemetery, 58 new spaces have been identified. With the exclusive right of burial for a grave costing £217, this will generate a new income for the council.
Another use of the mapping is the locating of graves; when the council needs to show the gravediggers, in advance of a funeral, where to work. This saves a lot of time for the Parks Department, which has the responsibility of finding and marking the graves.
The council is now in the process of digitising its burial records and creating a photographic record of the headstones. The Pear Technology software will enable the council to link its database to the cemetery map so that it will be able to search for a person by name, find their burial record, a photo of their headstone and the precise location, all within a matter of seconds. This will benefit members of the public, as searches through the burial register books is currently time-consuming, slowing down the rate at which the council can respond to enquiries.
- Accurate view of the cemetery enables maximisation of the available space. The council has identified 58 new grave spaces, providing a potential new income of over £12 000.
- Ability to plan for the future and identify when a decision on the need for a new burial site should take place.
- Time saved by the Parks Department and the general public when locating graves.
'Digital mapping has enabled us to record our cemetery in greater and more accurate detail than ever before. The technology saves our staff time, both in the office and on site at the cemetery. But it is also hugely beneficial to members of the public, as we can now provide them with maps to help them locate the graves of their loved ones.'