New app will catalog and protect U.S. veterans’ gravesites

Wreaths lie on headstones after being placed by volunteers during the Wreaths Across America event in Arlington National Cemetery, Dec. 12, 2015 (U.S. Army photo by Rachel Larue)

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The gravesites of war dead are among the most revered places for any nation. Yet, in many cases, including at some of America’s most sacred burial grounds, lapses in record keeping and overall poor management have resulted in mislabeled gravesites or even the loss of veterans’ remains.

With recent audits showing that these problems are widespread, a leading mobile technology firm Tuesday unveiled new software designed to prevent them from happening.

“Our military cemeteries are part of our treasured national heritage, but over the years, their systems have grown unnecessarily complex, making it more difficult to serve America’s citizens,” said DMI CEO Jay Sunny Bajaj.

To help cemetery staff keep track, DMI has developed the Enterprise Interment Services System. EISS allows administrative and grounds teams to photograph grave sites and automatically match that data with GPS records to get an accurate fix on its location.

The problems Bajaj alluded to are occurring nationwide.

In 2013 the city of Milwaukee performed an audit on their only veteran graveyard, discovering that 32 of the gravesites had the wrong headstone. As first reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, many of the mistakes happened during work to fix sinking land in the cemetery.

Houston’s veteran graveyard was another victim of numerous clerical errors in 2002 and 2006 resulting in service members being buried in the wrong plots. The issue there was discovered when employees reviewed the site map to prepare for a new burial.

Even the federally-owned and managed Arlington National Cemetery, one of the most prestigious veteran graveyards in the world, has not been immune from these types of logistical problems.

In 2010, The Washington Post broke news that Army investigators noticed over 100 unmarked graves as well as numerous graves not marked on the official maps. The end result from that scandal was the forced retirement of the site’s superintendent and many reforms being passed to better protect the gravesites.

In all of these instances, part of the blame fell on antiquated record keeping.

EISS will take the photos and GPS information and securely store it in a database that can be searched and monitored by cemetery staff. DMI says that moving to a uniform and self-sufficient system will not only protect gravesites, but should reduce costs to graveyards by simplifying records management.

Currently, the system is designed to work in a virtualized server architecture, but company officials say they are also working on an app to allow graveyard staff to generate and update records from the actual gravesites on their mobile devices.

“This much-needed consolidation and migration to a virtualized infrastructure will aid research teams in their analysis of the data integrity and restore the confidence of the data,” Bajaj said.

“We’re proud to take part in this important undertaking to streamline and improve these cemeteries’ daily operations,” he said.

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apps, Arlington National Cemetery, Department of Defense (DOD), Departments
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