Geospatially-Enabling the Arlington National Cemetery

Monday September 10, 2012

What is it?

The Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) conducts 30 funeral services per day, maintains almost 260,000 gravesites and hosts over four million visitors annually, posing a formidable challenge to personnel responsible for synchronizing burial operations with other daily tasks, such as public ceremonies, infrastructure repair, grounds upkeep and public safety activities throughout the 628-acre site.

Grave site accountability is a key element of the cemetery's mission-one that relied upon the review, analysis and coordination of more than 147 years of varying records from different eras in its history. Plots were identified on hard copy maps provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, however geospatial data of grave plots and headstones didn't exist in a usable format.

What has the Army done?

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Army Geospatial Center (AGC) played a vital role in geospatially-enabling the ANC's operations by supporting the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management and Installation Management Command's "Army Mapper" program. Army Mapper serves as the framework and infrastructure for the cemetery's geospatial database and applications. The AGC also provided quality control of geospatial data for the ANC by reviewing the geospatial data collected from over 151,000 grave points and corresponding grave plots for spatial and attribute accuracy, while also ensuring that it is Spatial Data Standard for Facilities Infrastructure and the Environment compliant.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?

New geospatially-enabled web and mobile applications for daily operations are being developed to assist in grave scheduling. The cemetery can now visually assign a grave site for preparation and burial; changes made to the schedule or location are automatically shared with the entire staff. One burial involves many teams of employees executing simultaneously-utilizing a mobile application to synchronize their actions is critical to streamlining operations and, more importantly, ensuring that remains are laid to rest in a dignified and professional manner.

Why is this important to the Army?

The Departments of the Army, Interior and Veterans Affairs manage 170 national cemeteries here and abroad, and many states have established veterans' cemeteries. Geospatially-enabled applications could be modified to support their operations, allowing each to plan and carry out memorial services for the nation's fallen heroes, veterans and their loved ones efficiently, professionally and with dignity.


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
U.S. Army Geospatial Center
Arlington National Cemetery







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