On Veterans Day, Where Are the Arlington Cemetery Mashups?

Adam DuVander
Nov. 11 2010, 06:00AM EST

Everywhere you look, there's a map mashup for just about any recognized monument. Yet, those looking to find the location of graves in the U.S. Arlington National Cemetery won't find such a mashup. There are some things that come close, but nothing that utilizes a mapping API. What's more, it seems the cemetery itself is stuck in the past when it comes to organizing its own information.

The topic of mapping Arlington came up in the U.S. Senate this summer. A choice quote was captured by Directions Magazine:

So let me get this straight. It's 2010. We've got this amazing piece of technology right here [holding up Sen. Claire McCaskill's iPad] We've got cell phones, we've got iPhones, we've got this and that. And you guys are still dealing in cards. I just can't get my head around that.

To be fair, the cemetery does have an interactive map, but it's not a mashup and leaves much to be desired. Some places are available as a KML file, which can then be visualized in most map APIs, or on Google Maps.

Perhaps the best take on it is the Arlington Cemetary Flickr group, which has a map visualization (pictured above) with the locations of each photo.

Adam DuVander Hi! I'm Developer Communications Director for SendGrid and former Executive Editor of ProgrammableWeb. I currently serve as a Contributing Editor. If you have API news, or are interested in writing for ProgrammableWeb, please contact editor@programmableweb.com Though I'm a fan of anything API-related, my particular interest is in mapping. I've published a how-to book, Map Scripting 101, to get anyone started making maps on websites. In a not-so-distant past life I wrote for Wired and Webmonkey.

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Arlington is typical of so many cemeteries in the United States when it comes to maps and interment data management. Since I am in this business, I approached Arlington National Cemetery in 2006 after seeing the condition of their maps and a record management system called "BOSS" and was quickly dismissed and told that I would have to talk to the department of the Army. From 2006 through 2008, I made several attempts to set up a meeting but no response.

I am a veteran (Vietnam) and own a veteran business that specializes in cemetery mapping, interment data management and ground penetrating radar. Since this story aired this past summer, I made a number of phone calls, sent Emails and also contacted State Congressman but once again, my inquires have gone unanswered.

Robert Perry

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