Mooresville Cemetery Modernization Project
The Town of Mooresville currently manages and oversees the local cemetery. The current recordkeeping documents for the cemetery consist of old, hand-drawn maps and handwritten record cards. However, these existing records and maps for the 15+ cemetery sections are old, decaying, and sometimes incomplete. In 2018, a frozen pipe burst and caused water damage, ruining many of the records.
The cemetery corner monuments deteriorated over the years, resulting in unclear section boundary lines. In older sections, inaccurate measuring techniques caused inconsistent grave spacing in some cases. To preserve and share cemetery information, the Town of Mooresville partnered with Banning Engineering to assist in converting their physical maps and records into a GIS application that individuals could use internally (for cemetery management and recordkeeping) and publicly (for viewing).
The Banning Engineering survey department field mapped the various sections within the cemetery and located/set the appropriate corners for the cemetery sections, lots, and grave plots. Banning staff exported these boundaries into ArcGIS Pro databases, where fields were added to the section, lot, and grave plot features. The record cards were individually scanned and assigned a unique “grave code” based on the card’s section number, lot number, and grave plot letter to preserve the physical records themselves. These scans were then placed in folders and linked to the associated feature, where the town can access the records via the map. The data was then indexed in a spreadsheet and joined to the features in the map, using the grave code to copy the data across. Once all the sections are completed, all the cemetery GIS data will be uploaded to ArcGIS Online, where there will be a private map for internal use and a public map for access on the town’s website.
With a comprehensive map bringing all the various records together in one place, the pain of searching through countless files of sometimes incomplete information is now gone. This map now allows for quick and easy access to locate any grave in the cemetery and its associated information from a computer, tablet, or phone. The risk of losing data and records being damaged from a fire or water leak is virtually none, as everything will be in a digital GIS format. Since the interface is simple and intuitive, town employees will be able to seamlessly transition to this new cemetery management format. Public citizens will easily utilize search features to locate where their loved ones are buried and other associated information. As a new open data source for the town, the public will be able to add relevant documents such as obituaries, news articles, or pictures to grave plots. This new map also allows future features, such as military veteran grave locations cataloged through a recent Eagle Scout project.
Each year, the Indiana Geographic Information Council honors outstanding projects through the Excellence in GIS Award. This award recognizes organizations in six different categories for their use of geospatial technology to improve our world. At the 2022 Indiana GIS Conference, Banning Engineering and the Town of Mooresville received the Excellence in GIS Award for this project.