Local cemetery turns to technology for record preservation

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Reporter - Kendall Downing

MARION, Ill. - Monday night, a group of city administrators in Marion, Illinois will update the city council on an ambitious project to preserve records at their cemetery.

Officials want to take old information into the digital age, putting the location of 35,000 burial plots online.

The work's been going on for a couple of years. Now the city hopes to capitalize on current technology.

"Put in the person's last name," said Terance Henry.

It only takes a click for Marion's Information Technology Director Terance Henry to lock in the location of a grave.

This is the final phase of their online records project, pinpointing each plot with geographic information system teachnology, or GIS.

"In the near future, you'll be able to click onto a person's name. Or click onto a point on a map and know where they are," said Henry.

Henry helped develop a Website for the city that brings up the location of a person's burial. Soon you could see a picture online with that life-like map.

"This just makes it so user friendly for people," said Henry.

Marion GIS Coordinator William Barrett said the new mapping will make records easier to maintain.

"We realized we could GPS the locations within a three inch accuracy level, which is survey grade," said Barrett.

He said the records will be weatherproofed, in a sense, protecting historical information in case of natural disasters or even vandalism.

"This type of technology's been used for a lot of things, and as far as I know, nobody's doing what we're doing," he said.

Three hundred of the 35,000 graves have been tracked with GIS, so there's still quite a bit of work to do. Regardless, Henry estimates portions of the project will be complete within a year.

"The accuracy and accountability of it, that's important," said Henry.

For a link to the Marion Cemetery Website, click here.

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