Innovation That Matters

At Arlington National Cemetery, a new Army-designed app will help visitors locate gravesites


Virginia's Arlington National Cemetery will soon launch a smartphone app that can help visitors locate gravesites.

Back in 2010 we saw gravestones and memorials being given a high-tech makeover to help mourners remember special moments with deceased loved ones, but recently Virginia’s Arlington National Cemetery took what promises to be an even bigger technological step forward. Specifically, the cemetery’s military leadership recently embraced a new, Army-designed geospatial mapping program, and will soon launch a smartphone app that can list events, deliver virtual tours, and help visitors locate gravesites. Hosting some four million visitors annually, Arlington National Cemetery includes more than 250,000 gravesites and 150,000 columbarium niches; some 30 funeral services are conducted there every day. Its new geospatial mapping system, which was announced in March, is the first of its kind to be used in the US national cemeteries. With it, Arlington can synchronize burial operations in real time with other daily operations; it’s also linked to Arlington’s interment scheduling system, which allows schedulers to assign gravesites electronically and assigns procession routes. Soon, a new smartphone app due in October will provide a real-time schedule of burials, wreath-laying ceremonies and other events at the cemetery. A map will distinguish burial locations that have been assigned from those undergoing maintenance; the app will also show which areas or routes should be avoided due to congestion or activities, even including when tree pruning has been scheduled. Developed in partnership with Geographic Information Services, the app will highlight notable historic gravesites and help visitors find those of loved ones, with accuracy within three inches. Back and front photos of every tombstone in the cemetery can also be found by clicking on the sites on the map. Following its launch this fall, the new app is slated for expansion to the cemetery at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C., according to an Army News Service report. App-minded entrepreneurs: time to bring something similar to cemeteries around the globe? Spotted by: Judy McRae



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