STEPHENVILLE Data on the location of gravesites in the Roman Catholic portion of Hillside Interfaith Cemetery near Stephenville will soon be mapped out.
It’s a project of work by the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program at College of the North Atlantic.
Taught out of the Corner Brook campus of the provincial college system, the project focuses on the Hillside Interfaith Cemetery, chosen for students to come map out that particular area of the cemetery to test out the methodology the class members have established.
Along with instructor Darin Brooks, students of the program involved in the project include Kristen Scott, Andrea Dort, Kelly Menchions and Shane Collins.
Collins said the cemetery-mapping project is something the students started while still in school through a research grant awarded from the college’s Office of Applied Research.
They were given the go ahead from April to June during the third semester of their program to carry out the research project, which at that time involved the mapping of the Montgomerie Street Cemetery in Corner Brook.
“We are here to continue the work in putting our system together to see how it works in a different cemetery,” he said on Thursday.
“What worked in the Montgomerie Cemetery needed to be applied here to test and fine-tune the methodology we’ve come up with.”
The goal of gathering data in the field is to be able to produce a mapped document that identifies the location of headstones and the individuals associated with those grave markers.
Collins said there is a two-part component to the work they are doing, expected to take about four days. The first is the location of the headstones and where the individuals rest; the second involves linking recorded information of the deceased to the known location. The GIS team can then link the recorded information to the known spatial location.
The team is working with a good set of records as about 80 per cent of the gravesites are identified. The mapping information they gather will go back to the Roman Catholic Church and the product they will be provided to them will be in the form of a new record book.
Collins said a computer Excel file will be created too, which will act as a database of information including the record information of the individuals in the cemetery and the Global Positioning System co-ordinates of the location of the gravesites.
Mike Tobin, chairman of the Hillside Interfaith Cemetery Committee, is thrilled that the GIS class is doing this work on a volunteer basis and that a database of the Catholic section of the cemetery will be made available. He hopes the rest of the cemetery will be plotted sometime in the future.
“We (cemetery committee) want to have a hard copy of the data to help out when people are trying to locate the gravesites,” he said.
Tobin said there has been difficulty in tracking some of the records but this work will give them more information than they already have and better pinpoint the locations of headstones.
The students hope to have two or three cemeteries completed by the end of this summer and a future goal is to work with Navigate, a partnership between the college and Memorial University, to develop a business plan and marketing strategy, if things go far enough for the student-owned idea that developed from the expertise gained in the GIS Applications Specialist Program.