Arlington Uses GPS to Honor Fallen Soldiers

New app to help family plan visits, pay tribute to fallen service members laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.

by / July 2, 2012
Screen shot of the geospatial mapping system, courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery.

Arlington National Cemetery will launch a new app this fall to help visitors navigate the more than 250,000 gravesites on the 624-acre property. According to USA Today, the app is part of a technology overhaul undertaken at Arlington following the 2010 discovery of widespread mismanagement of soldiers’ remains, including graves that lacked headstones, double-booked grave sites and unidentified urns buried in a mass grave. Thousands of discrepancies identified through the investigation remain unresolved.

Beginning in March, Arlington officials now assign and manage all gravesites electronically, using a digital map that boasts military-grade accuracy. The new record-keeping system was designed by Army staff. A number of new burial procedures at Arlington aim to streamline record-keeping, improve communication with family members and preserve the physical integrity of individual gravesites.

Available across all platforms, the app harnesses GPS technology to help cemetery visitors obtain directions to their loved one’s gravesite and download headstone images. Arlington is working on building out their 3G and 4G network before the launch of the app. With more than 10,000 events each year, including 3,000 wreath-laying ceremonies and 7,000 military burials, the geospatial technology that the app will leverage helps cemetery officials coordinate events in real time.


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