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Citizen Engagement, Government GIS, Mobile Government

US Army Cemetery Offers GPS-Enabled Mobile App

Visitors to the Arlington National Cemetery (ANC), a military cemetery in Virginia, USA, can use a mobile app called ANC Explorer to locate gravesites of loved ones via GPS. The app is based on a geospatial mapping system designed by the Army used to create a unified database of grave records and manage cemetery operations.


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The free app, launched on 22 October, enables the public to explore Arlington’s grounds and find specific gravesites through a web browser or an Android, BlackBerry or iOS-based smartphone. Visitors can search for specific gravesites using known information about the buried soldier or physical location on the cemetery.

ANC Explorer also allows the public to view events taking place at the cemetery, browse points of interest such as notable graves and monuments, and generate front-and-back photos of a headstone or monument.

“This is just the beginning. In the future, ANC Explorer will offer features such as emergency and event notifications, restroom and water fountain locations, shuttle stops, and self-guided tours,” said Maj. Nicholas R. Miller, Arlington National Cemetery Chief Information Officer, in a press release.

The app is powered by information from a single, verifiable database linked to the mapping system, developed by the management team of the cemetery over the past two years.

Teams of soldiers used a specially modified iPhone app to photograph every gravesite in the cemetery. The photographs and the GPS coordinates of the placement of each grave were synced with information from paper records and other databases to ensure names, rank and date-of-birth information were correct.

The geospatial mapping system also allows Arlington to conduct other daily operations such as public ceremonies, infrastructure repair, and grounds upkeep across the cemetery. Additionally, Arlington’s scheduling system is linked to the mapping system, allowing schedulers to assign gravesites electronically.

The app can be downloaded from the ANC website here.

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