Rookwood Cemetery has launched tech that allows the public to locate any of a million interments. (ABC Radio Sydney: Harriet Tatham)
Sydney’s Rookwood Cemetery, known as the oldest, largest and most multicultural working cemetery in Australia, has introduced a system allowing you to Google Map yourself to a grave, or view a headstone and its monumentation in real-time.
- The cemetery is the largest in the southern hemisphere, occupying grounds larger than Sydney’s CBD
- Record keeping was an increasing issue tracking the more than a million interments, but live mapping will help
- The tech maps to the actual plot, offers real-time photograph of the grave and any monumentation on the grave
The technology, hailed as an Australian first, allows the public to search the one million interments in Rookwood’s General Cemetery and follow a live GPS tracker on a smartphone before locating the exact grave.
“[Rookwood Cemetery] is one of the last massive green spaces in Sydney,” said the cemetery’s chief executive officer George Simpson.
Claiming the title as the largest cemetery in not only Australia but the southern hemisphere — occupying grounds larger than Sydney’s CBD — the launch hopes to make the nightmare of getting lost in the cemetery a thing of the past.
“We haven’t been great in mapping the cemetery and having our records entirely up to date, so we felt that it was something we needed to get done pretty quick smart,” Mr Simpson said.
“We’re the first people in Australia to have the software installed and to go live with it. So I guess we will be the prototype for Australia.”
New GPS mapping technology will direct users right to the grave they seek. (ABC Radio Sydney: Harriet Tatham)
Viewing gravestones in real-time
Mr Simpson said while the project will help people physically searching for graves at the cemetery in Sydney, it will also help those overseas.
“The first part is for people in Australia who can actually come onto the site, and through a handheld smart device access a database to gain the coordinates — through a couple of taps — to get directions from where they are located directly to the grave,” he said.
“The other aspect is for people that are overseas doing genealogy.
“Before, they were only able to access a system and get details.
“Now they can access to a system and drill down through the maps to the actual plot, but also in a large majority of the cases they will they will be able to see our real-time photograph of the grave and any monumentation sitting on the grave,” Mr Simpson said.
Experts believe the technology will make the often difficult task of finding unmarked graves a lot easier. (ABC Radio Sydney: Harriet Tatham)
Executive officer of the Australian Society of Genealogists, Heather Garnsey, said this part of the project is of real interest.
“Not all of the graves have been digitised yet, but when they are it will make a big difference to genealogy,” she said.
Ms Garnsey said the Google Maps technology was also a huge help.
“I think one of the things that people often don’t realise, particularly visitors to Sydney, is just how big Rookwood Cemetery is,” she said.
“In the past it’s been really difficult. But I think for the sections covered in this new project this really will help people locate the grave.”
Rookwood Cemetery has more than one million interments in their 286 hectare green space. (ABC Radio Sydney: Harriet Tatham)