The Path to a Digital Cemetery Plan

The digital cemetery plan is a central tool for making workflow processes in cemetery administrations more efficient. Stefan Schumacher explains how to create a digital cemetery plan and what aspects to consider when selecting the appropriate tools.

The digital cemetery plan significantly simplifies administrative processes in cemetery management. By quickly and easily locating grave and deceased data, administrative procedures can be greatly improved. Graphical evaluations provide new insights into cemetery data and form a solid basis for the strategic orientation of cemetery planning.

This article will demonstrate, using the example of the pg_friedhof application, how quickly and easily digital cemetery plans can be built.

Data Foundation

In many municipalities, cemetery data is available in various media, formats, and qualities. For the pg_friedhof application, it does not matter whether the existing data comes from old paper plans, notebooks, burial registers, or digital data formats. All foundational data can be integrated into a digital cemetery plan.

Background Maps

High-resolution aerial images serve as background map material. These images can be downloaded for free by all municipal and church administrations. The accuracy of the aerial images is within +/- 10 centimeters, allowing for the digital cemetery plan to be constructed accurately. Available survey data or digital plan documents can also be added as supplements.

Creation of Burial Plots

The creation of burial plots is done using the pbsgeo planning tool – see Figure 1. It can be seen that a grid of graves (marked in yellow) has already been created. In the second area (highlighted in red), the grave geometries have not yet been inserted into the plan and are still under development.

The creation of burial plots always follows the same principle:

  • First, the number of plots per grave is selected. In this case, they are single graves. Columbarium walls and urn grave areas can also be created following this model.
  • In the second step, the size of the plot is defined in the planning tool. Here, a size of 2.00 x 1.00 meters has been selected.
  • Next, the orientation of the plots to be created is defined. This can be done either by selecting a specific orientation or by adjusting it to the aerial image.
  • After the single grave plot has been created in the previous steps, a grid can now be defined. The grid is very easily generated using the planning tool. In this example, the grave field will be created with six graves in a row and three graves in a column, with spaces of 30 centimeters between them. By clicking on the aerial image, the predefined grid is “stamped” onto the desired location on the aerial image. With this step, the creation of the grave geometries is completed.

Intelligent Linking

The created graves are initially just rectangles without a connection to the cemetery database. In the final step, the graves are linked to the corresponding file in the cemetery database. This turns the geometries into intelligent database objects. The linking is done very user-friendly through the following workflow:

  • Selection of the plot on the map.
  • Selection of the corresponding plot in the cemetery database.
  • Clicking the “Link” button.

After linking, the digital cemetery plan for this grave field is completed. Now, all graves can be queried or graphically evaluated based on a specific criterion. In this case, the filter by grave status is selected, coloring free graves green and occupied graves red.

Overall, creating the digital cemetery plan for the depicted section took about three minutes. These steps can also be carried out quickly by non-technically trained staff in the cemetery administration.


With the right tool, the path to a digital cemetery plan can be significantly simplified and shortened.

Ensure you use the right tool for creating and managing your digital cemetery plan. The relevant criteria for this can be found in the attached checklist.

Source: Friedhofskultur, May 2018