Online Memorial Wall Keeps the Departed a Click Away in South Africa

Digital Content

A small hi-tech company that develops technologies for community use has set up a memorial website so that people can commemorate their loved ones.

The online "memorial wall" allows people to post a photograph and obituary, which friends and family can build around by sending their own condolences, memories and thoughts. The system combines the Internet with cellular technologies so people can post comments directly to by sending an SMS.

The company behind the operation, Digital Bridging Technologies, does not charge anyone for creating a memorial web page, but will take a portion of the R3 charged for every SMS.

Director Kate Elphick said the site was simple to use and had been developed especially for the townships. "Using a combination of web and mobile phone technologies we deliver the virtual world of the internet to people in the real world through their cellphones. The Memorial Wall is the first such project," she said.

The biggest barriers to internet uptake are the lack of accessibility, a fear of the unknown and a lack of understanding of its benefits. Digital Bridging believes it has developed a website relevant to South Africans who may not understand the internet.

The website will be a cheap way to create family memories. It can also be printed to distribute at funerals, posted or e-mailed to people living far away. Every year the client will be asked to reconfirm by SMS that they want the wall to stay up for another year.

In time additional services will include advice on what to do when somebody dies, who to notify and how a deceased estate is administered. "The idea is to take away the unnecessary pain that comes with not knowing what to do next, and to demonstrate the relevance of the internet to all South Africans," Elphick said.

Digital Bridging Technologies is based in Pretoria's Innovation Hub, which is an incubation centre for small technology outfits.

Business Day