Soldiers use iPhones to photograph every grave at Arlington National Cemetery

“Night after night this summer, troops from the Army’s historic Old Guard have left their immaculately pressed dress blues, white gloves and shiny black boots at home to slip into Arlington National Cemetery in T-shirts and flip-flops to photograph each and every grave with an iPhone,” Kimberly Hefling reports for The Associated Press.

“The sometimes eerie task to photograph more than 219,000 grave markers and the front of more than 43,000 sets of cremated remains in the columbarium is part of the Army’s effort to account for every grave and to update and fully digitize the cemetery’s maps,” Hefling reports. “The Old Guard performs its work at night to escape the summer heat and to avoid interrupting funerals.”

Hefling reports, “The photos taken at night are matched with other records to find discrepancies that need to be fixed, and officials say it’s too early in the process to draw any conclusions. Military officials hope they can eventually use the photos to create an online database for the public. Four million people annually visit the cemetery.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “goddess” for the heads up.]


    1. An iPhone pic is easily reproducible up to A4. There’s nothing wrong with the optics, and with it’s GPS perfectly suitable for the job. There are camera apps with a grid to make sure the image is square as well. I’ve worked in print for around 30 years, eight operating a Crosfield 6250 drum scanner and retouching in photoshop. I was working on files from the very earliest digital cameras, and I know how good the iPhone camera is.

    2. Well, the iPhone4 takes excellent 5MP images, certainly good enough for the task, and they are geotagged, which seems to be part of the goal of the project, as previous surveys have had problems where occupied plots were actually not occupied, and vice versa.

    3. Given the fact these photographs are being taken at night, I get the impression this is to collect information from the grave markers. If quality was a concern then surely they would have taken them in the day.
      The iPhone has GPS info embedded in the metadata, which is good for clearly up any further mistakes down the line.

  1. I would guess that higher quality optics weren’t needed and they probably already had access to a bunch of iPhones (using the ones that belong to the troops) that take pictures with GPS tagging.

    It sounds more like a “Hey guys, I think this would work and wouldn’t cost anything but our time” than a full fledged mapping project. If this phase works, I’m sure they’ll be back to redo it with the Proof of Concept already behind them.

  2. That’s just nuts. I’ll never voluntarily use an iPhone to take a picture if I had a Canon SLR to hand. No way Jose. The set up alone will take too long. Plus the picture won’t look as good as that taken with an SLR. This is just a publicity stunt, nothing more.

    1. Haha. Didn’t you realize that any project that uses a Apple product is a publicity stunt? Apple couldn’t possibly survive without pulling such shenanagins. The commercial airlines using iPads for paperless flight decks is one of the biggest publicity stunts in recent Apple history. Everyone knows that they could have used the $99 TouchPad and accomplished the same task for less money.

      Those troops taking photographs using the iPhone were personally bribed by Steve Jobs and Tim Cook and I have the evidence to prove it. There has to be something sneaky going on or they would have used the 12MP Nokia N8 smartphone with a Carl Zeiss lens if they really needed to take crystal-clear photos with GPS positioning.

    2. You *must* be joking, BLN! This database simply links a reasonable quality/size image with a GPS location. There are 262,000 total sites to image, and I imagine that there are a lot of Old Guard troops who have iPhones and are proud to help honor their fellow fallen. Who are you to disparage their effort?

    3. BLN why don’t you just get lost. We don’t need to read your even thought. Surely you have something else to do than come here and post your endless dribble. There does not seem to be any subject that you don’t feel you are an expert on. How does one get that way?

  3. Yeah, Arlington National Cemetery itself is just a big publicity stunt to get more people to enlist. Once again Testi demonstrates his acute awareness of the real facts.

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