4 June 2021

Are digital memorials the high-tech future for ACT cemeteries?

| Damien Larkins
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A digital memorial on mobile phone at Gungahlin Cemetery

Digital memorials could be adopted by cemeteries in the ACT. Photo: Damien Larkins.

Multimedia digital memorials could be coming to cemeteries in the ACT, but what are they and how would they work?

As technology evolves, its applications are becoming more widespread and are now becoming a growing part of the funeral industry.

Digital memorials allow mourners to leave images, videos and messages of their lost loved ones in an online virtual guestbook.

The tributes can be accessed either remotely through an app or website, or in person such as via QR codes attached to headstones.

The technology can store rich multimedia histories of people who have passed on, or even use GPS to navigate cemeteries to find gravesites.

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Australian company Memories specialises in digital memorials and has provided them for clients in more than 200 countries across the globe.

Memories chief commercial officer Glen McGoldrick said it’s the next generation step from traditional newspaper obituaries.

“Obituaries have been printed in newspapers around the world for hundreds of years and remained pretty much the same during that entire time,” he said.

“A digital memorial is something that is used to celebrate someone’s life in a rich media sense.”

Mr McGoldrick said the COVID-19 pandemic brought the adoption of digital technologies forward 10 years for most industries, including funeral services.

“If you asked at the end of 2019, ‘Does anyone think that next year there will be hundreds of thousands of funerals livestreamed around the world?’ most people would have thought you had rocks in your head,” he said.

“That was the only way people could be involved or engaged in that final celebration of life.”

A digital memorial app as it appears on mobile phone

Digital memorials offer a timeline of a deceased person’s life, and is accessible online. Image: Memories.

Mr McGoldrick said digital memorials can also be used for existing graves, and that they add to, rather than detract from, traditional memorials.

Despite the fast pace of change, digital memorials aren’t mainstream yet but they’re growing.

“I think people are less resistant to change in this space,” said Mr McGoldrick.

“That was brought about because of necessity, but that doesn’t negate the need for any change or innovation.”

Now more people are actively thinking about how they’ll be remembered, and want to have a hand in curating their digital memorials.

Angel statue on a grave at Gungahlin Cemetery

Glen McGoldrick from Memories says digital memorials will add to, rather than detract from, traditional memorials. Photo: Damien Larkins.

“I’ve started a Memories timeline,” said Mr McGoldrick. “[But] I don’t have an eye on handing it over to anyone in the foreseeable future.”

The idea of adopting digital memorials has been raised within the ACT Government’s Canberra Cemeteries directorate, but as yet no detailed planning has been done.

In a statement, Canberra Cemeteries says it will consult the community on any future plans for innovations such as digital memorials.

Original Article published by Damien Larkins on The RiotACT.

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