GPS Replacing Tombstones in Calgary?

The City of Calgary has a new strategy for the city’s soon-to-be-full cemeteries: green burials and GPS locators for finding the dead.

Four of Calgary’s five municipal cemeteries are full, and officials estimate the Queen’s Park burial lands, which opened in 1940, will run out of space within 10 years.

A council committee approved a strategy that incorporates technology, including global positioning system units, and environmentally friendly techniques to make the most use of new cemetery land.

A family visiting the cemetery will be given a hand-held unit to find loved ones.

Read the full story at CBC published in January of 2010 and check out the comments on Dick Eastman’s blog about this story.

Please Comment below. What are your thoughts about Calgary replacing headstones with GPS tracking?

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5 Responses to GPS Replacing Tombstones in Calgary?

  1. This is really fascinating but I’m not convinced that it’s a great idea. I love going to cemeteries and looking at the headstones. They can provide an indication of what was important to the deceased – if he was a Mason or she was Eastern Star, for example. Many headstones have quotes that show us how beloved a person was.
    When I go to a cemetery, I look at the headstone(s) I’m interested in, but I also look around to see who else I might ‘know.’ I found one of my great-Aunts this way and couple of great-great Uncles I didn’t even know were in Canada!
    From a larger perspective, an accumulation of headstones demonstrates part of an era’s tapestry. For example, patterns or motifs appear during different time frames and give us insight into what was important at that point in time.
    For these reasons, I’m not fond of the GPS idea because I’d hate to lose all this information.
    From a technical standpoint, how accurate is a GPS and for how long does the ‘signal’ (if that’s the appropriate term?) last?
    I am absolutely in favour of many green initiatives but the part of me who doesn’t want to lose touch with the past is a lot worried by this option.

  2. I feel that it might be a good idea, but there will not be any documentation of who was buried at a particular site. I know that space is limited, but I don’t want to loose the connection to any person.

  3. freda stewart says:

    Well, I don’t want to see GPS be the only available means of finding a cemetery plot. It may be handy for the record keepers to shove a GPS at people but for most people the trip to the cemetery is a pilgrimage and the GPS somehow doesn’t cut it. And actually, how does the GPS make up for crowded cemetery spaces?

  4. Dawn-Ann says:

    The nerdy side of me is thinking, “Cool!” The sentimental side of me is thinking of all the days I’ve spent tramping through cemeteries and the valuable information I’ve found there.

    I think it’s just the way of the future and we’ll find other ways to gather our information on our dearly departed. Thankfully, more people are careful to keep better records these days. I know I’m leaving my children (and grandchildren) a legacy of stories and images and their family heritage. Gravestones are quaint but they’re not the only way to remember and honour the deceased.

  5. Aleta says:

    This really a cool idea! And, no one said that it would be a replacement for tramping through a cemetery and looking at the markers. I think it is fabulous as an additional option. When I look for grave markers for “Find A Grave,” I can’t tell you how problematic it can be sometimes. I’ve had instances where the person that I was looking for was buried in a plot purchased by a non-related party and to this day, there hasn’t been a marker. Some older markers are deteriorated beyond belief and burial records can be lost. I have a friend who can’t locate his family member in a cemetery even though the funeral records say he is there and someone has a marker previously. The records are lost and no one living has specific information. What if some graves could be marked to lead other family members to their loved one?

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