The deceased may have no use for Wi-Fi (yet), but their living visitors certainly do. Maybe that was the justification Russian officials used when they decided to install free Wi-Fi in three of the country’s most prominent and often-visited cemeteries. At some point during the first half of 2016, those paying their respects at Novodevichy, Troyekurovskoye and Vagankovo cemeteries won’t have to worry about shoddy cellphone service anymore — they’ll have free Wi-Fi so that they can Instagram tasteful pictures of their family members and friends, who may be present physically or spiritually.
Branded as “zones of psychological comfort,” these hotspots will be available in “rest areas” at what appears to be the request of Russian cemetery goers. “In a survey carried out by us in the summer, respondents complained about the lack of internet at the cemetery,” Yevgeny Abramov, head of telecommunications company YS System told the Klerk.ru website. “While we were thinking about how to implement this project with the greatest possible sensitivity and respect for the departed, an answer popped up by itself.”
Russian officials note that the prominence of many of the cemeteries’ inhabitants (author Anton Chekhov, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, and former Russian President Boris Yeltsin are all buried at Novodevichy) may prompt curiosity in tourists and locals alike. “These cemeteries are like open air museums,” Lilya Lvovskaya, a spokeswoman from city-run funeral service Ritual, which runs Moscow’s graveyards, told AFP. “People often come and find themselves standing in front of a grave and want to know more about the person lying there.”
Sure, it may sound a bit like morbid curiosity, but you gotta give the people what they want.
If the introduction of Wi-Fi proves particularly popular, officials say they will consider expanding these services to the remaining 133 cemeteries located across Russia’s capital. Novodevichy and Vagankovo cemeteries have already embraced technology, and installed GPS systems designed to help visitors find famous graves.
And if that’s not a sign of the times, we don’t know what is.