The digitisation of graveyards: How teams of drones help modernise cemeteries

Antrim company, PlotBox, is mapping cemeteries around the world

The shortlist of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award was unveiled last month. One of the businesses on that shortlist is PlotBox, an Antrim based software company, which is working to digitise the business of cemeteries and burials. 

This may not comes as a great surprise, but the cemeteries industry is very dated in terms of technology. The majority of records are kept in books, ledgers or, perhpas, an excel spreadsheet at best. This creates a number of issues for anyone hoping to read through those records, not least of all because they are rarely cloud based. These outdated systems can lead to costly mistakes, such as graves dug in the wrong places. 

Looking to solve this issue, Leona and Sean McAllister set up PlotBox. The idea came to the couple after a local cemetery hired Sean to create a map for them. As a surveyor by trade, Sean did this project, but also opted to take images of each gravestone. Leona explained how this evolved into PlotBox.

"I was on maternity leave at the time and Sean asked me to transcribe the transcript on the headstones. What we had was quite basic; an accurate map and an excel spreadsheet that correlated. It was clear that this was a great resource for those running cemeteries." 

PlotBox is a cloud-based software platform. There's also a website, which on the front end is a genealogy service and on the back end allows Parishes to log in and add details.

"Everything that the parish or local authority would have already, like books or maps, can be transcribed or scanned and stored, as well as any other new information, and then details of the lay-out of the cemetery and who is buried where – and who is booked to be buried in future. It's all there" says Leona.

The McAllisters use drones for the mapping processes. Sean started out using the more traditional methods of surveying, using a robotic total station and GPS, but decided to looking into alternative technologies. The process of mapping a 12-15 acre piece of land would have taken 100 hours, but this has not been shortened down to two hours thanks to the drones. 


PlotBox is continue to expand its operations both sides of the Atlantic and are hiring. At present the company are looking to fill roles in sales, customer service and software developers too. 

If you're interested, email sean(at)plot box(dot)io.

Click here for more information on the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award.