THE Municipality of Windhoek is in the process of buying an internet-based system which will allow people to book graves online.
The municipality floated a tender for the supply, design, implementation, configuration and support services for the graves' software.
According to the Tender Bulletin, four companies placed bids on 4 October this year with offers ranging from N$235 000 to N$1,5 million and they had to provide references from a South African municipality.
The lowest bid was made by Synopsis Software, Marketing and Sales who asked for N$235 000 while the highest came from Sympology Technology Solutions who bid for N$1,5 million.
Other companies are Green Enterprise Solutions who bid for N$323 000 while Reliable Investment bid for N$470 000.
Municipality spokesperson Joshua Amukugo told The Namibian on Friday that acquiring the system is part of their ongoing processes of ensuring that the institution embraces up-to-date technology.
He said council has allocated funds over the last financial year for the project and has the capacity to implement it. Although Amukugo could not provide the exact amount available, he said council had discussed looking at a cheaper and up to date system.
"We don't want to have a system that will be outdated in two or three years," he said.
According to Amukugo, they conducted research on what their counterparts in other countries are using and that is why they asked for a reference from a South African local authority.
The general tender specifics are that the key functions of the software should be able to carry out grave reservations and maintenance, burial or cremation and other records.
The system should also be able to use Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates for graves, Google Earth interface for grave location on the map and remote online capturing through mobile phones. Other specifications are that the system should be able to carry out comprehensive reports, provide data on maintenance of graves, workflow information and should have an interface, especially finance and payment systems. The company should also map out the transfer of skills.
According to South African media reports early this month, an East Rand entrepreneur, Lebohang Khitsane who owns Bataung Memorial Tombstones, came up with the idea of digitising cemeteries to help bereaved families locate the site of their relatives' resting places.
Khitsane's main concern was the large number of people who could not remember the location of their loved ones' graves because an average of 120 people are buried every weekend at most SA cemeteries.
"We created a Quick Response (QR) code for gravestones. This QR code is embedded with GPS coordinates, and when people attend funerals they will never get lost again. They scan the QR code: it gives them the funeral programme, it gives them direction to the cemetery, and it gives them the option to send messages to the family o f condolence," Khitsane said.
The QR code can be scanned by any smart device that has the free application installed. The code is then placed on the tombstone, for a fee, ensuring that it is easy to locate the graves of loved ones.
Some American funeral directors have also devised what is called an iGrave that uses GPS satellite tracking to allow relatives to find their loved ones in a natural burial site.
The iGrave, a battery-powered device, receives a GPS transmitter disk from the centre of the casket, or in the grave if there is no casket. The battery can last for several years.
According to various reports, several types of the 'iGrave' use GPS satellites, while others use special electronic tags such as those used in 'tap and pay' credit cards and in departments stores to track clothes.