GPS Tracking App Helps Locate Graves in Arlington National Cemetery

23 May 2013

With Memorial Day just around the corner, here’s a post about how GPS tracking technology is helping memorialize and pay respects to the military at one of our nation’s most hallowed grounds — Arlington National Cemetery.

GPS is an incredibly useful tool. And GPS tracking apps are breaking new ground with the release of a new web application called ANC Explorer by Arlington National Cemetery.

The app provides family members, loved one, veterans and the public the ability to locate graves, in addition to the capability to see photographs, both front and back, of headstones and monuments. It then allows users to get directions to the monument or headstone locations. The app also provides visitors with information on special events at the cemetery and the ability to leave feedback concerning their experience.

There are already plans to include additional features such as restroom and water fountain locations as well as event and emergency notifications.

The new app is the result of an attempt to improve the accountability of the institution after reports of inaccurately marked gravesites, poor record keeping and outright mismanagement at the cemetery were disclosed.

Each headstone of the 259,978 gravesites in Arlington National Cemetery was photographed by the Army and compared with existing records along with other historical data in an effort to verify the validity of the information and provide absolute accuracy of the data.

“Having access to all this information provides two distinct advantages. First, it helps those in the cemetery really increase their understanding of the history and be more aware of the memorials around them. Second, if you’re not able to visit the cemetery in person, you can actually experience some of it through the website,” said Ryan Heitz, GISi federal program manager for the Army.

ANC Explorer also has several practical applications for the actual business operations of the national cemetery. It provides fast access for staff members to add new information so records can be up-to-date at all times. It also helps to avoid maintenance scheduling that conflict with other maintenance projects or in areas where funerals and other events are being conducted at the same time.

“There isn’t a national cemetery that is as technologically advanced as Arlington – both in day-to-day operations and how it connects to its families and visitors,” said Kathryn A. Condon, executive director of the Army National Military Cemeteries in a statement calling the ANC Explorer app another milestone in the cemetery’s transformation.

ANC Explorer is one of 10 winners receiving 2012 GCN Awards for IT Achievement for the powerful way it connects citizens with government and fills the never-ending demand for tools that share information and tactics.

This free app is available through several mediums. Apple users can download it through the iTunes store, Android users can download the app via Google Play, and BlackBerry users can access it at BlackBerry App World. It’s also available on theArlington National Cemetery website.



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