WiFi Coming to Moscow Cemeteries

Vagankovskoye Cemetery

It’s official: free WiFi will soon be available to all patrons of Moscow cemeteries — dead or alive.

The head of the state funeral service “Ritual”, Artyom Yekimov notified the Moscow mayor’s office that three largest cemeteries – Vagankovskoye, Novodevichye and Troekurovskoye – will be ready to offer the new service to the public in the first half of 2016.

“Free access to Internet will make visits to the cemeteries more comfortable, and will play an educational part as well,” Yekimov is quoted as saying by the official website of the Moscow city government.

The announcement produced quite a furore in the Russian social media, a host of jokes, as well as some serious discussion on possible benefits of Internet access in places of grief and how today’s social networks will look like in 30 to 50 years when most of their current users are dead.

One of the current jokes goes that “social networks will now become accessible even from the nether world.” And, surely, the joke about two dead men who crawled out from their graves because they couldn’t send emails from their coffins will become totally irrelevant to the next generation – both of the living and of the dead.

The “Ritual” head believes visitors and mourners will be able to receive all information about the deceased online, right at the cemetery, probably just by aiming their mobile gadgets at the graves or entering the names inscribed on tombstones.

This possibility leads many to expect the information about the dead will form a kind of new social network, helping, if not to communicate with them, at least, to create places around which their grieving friends and relatives could conduct virtual wakes and anniversary gatherings.

“Ritual” oversees 134 city cemeteries which serve as the final resting place to 120,000 people a year. The total number of graves in Moscow is eight million compared to the living population of around ten million. Local terminals at two largest cemeteries – Novodevichye and Vagankovskoye – already give access to information and GPS coordinates of the people buried there, and WiFi services will be a new step ahead, “Ritual” believes.