As cemeteries age so do their records
Wakefield, MA /PRNewswire/ - Have you ever gone to a cemetery office in search of a family plot or grave only to watch the attendant pull out an old index card of handwritten notes from a file cabinet? If you've experienced this you're not alone, many cemeteries still use index cards to record burials and lot sales. As paper records and older computer files age they are vulnerable to loss, deterioration, fire, or theft. The vast majority of cemeteries have no backup data for these instances. Left in their current condition there may come a day when the only reliable record a cemetery has is what can be read off a grave stone, and even those are rapidly deteriorating.
The actual percentage of cemeteries still using card filing systems is unknown, but Robert Fells, Executive Director of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA), the nation's largest cemetery and funeral organization estimates, "It is possible that 50% of all the active cemeteries are still using paper records without any digital backup."
Paper records are not inherently bad though. For so many cemeteries to still be using paper shows that segments of the industry, such as small and medium size cemeteries, have a long way to go to become compatible with the public's expectations for instant access to data, and 21st century business practices.
Often times paper records haven't been updated, or worse a cemetery may not be able to find a misfiled index card. Old, out-of-date, lost, or incomplete cemetery records may come as a surprise to the public, but not to the those tasked with computerizing them. Boston Computer Scanning, Inc. (Bosscan), a records management company in Wakefield, MA, has been scanning cemetery records and historical documents since 1992. They have seen first hand the poor condition and wide variety of filing systems in cemeteries. As Ted Dooling, the owner of Bosscan puts it, "the only consistency with paper records is their inconsistency from cemetery to cemetery."
Antiquated and inconsistent record keeping is not helped by the fact that cemeteries operate under local and state laws that can vary greatly. "There are no national standards for cemetery record keeping," acknowledged Fells of the ICCFA.
All of this led Bosscan in 2007 to focus on finding record keeping attributes that were common to all cemeteries when they created CemeteryFind, a cloud based records management & mapping product exclusively for cemeteries. Bosscan's Dooling says, "After years of computerizing cemetery records we found similar features with most cemeteries we could incorporate into one records management system compatible with all cemeteries". CF795, CemeteryFind's new product, was created to allow any cemetery to organize index cards, ledgers, deeds, maps, and old computer programs into one easy-to-use records management system.
With a cloud based records management system comes offsite data backup for the cemetery, and internet burial search for the public. Burial searches which the public would have previously visited or phoned the cemetery for.
CemeteryFind and other similar programs are designed for the vast majority of cemeteries which range in size from 2,000 to 100,000 graves. Do-it-yourself systems like this allow cemeteries to start entering old and new records on day one. Cloud based allows the cemetery to control what information is available to the public. Bosscan hopes to see their CF795 installed across the country as one of the standard records management systems for cemeteries. Dooling adds, "This is a race against time, the longer a cemetery waits to automate their records the more likely it is the data becomes permanently lost."
SOURCE: Boston Computer Scanning, IncCopyright 2018 PR Newswire. All Rights Reserved