Online power added to funeral formalities

A small landmark for “e-government” processes has been clocked up with the first online registration of a death in New Zealand.

The Department of Internal Affairs' Life Event Notification System (Lens) was notified of the death last week via an email generated and sent by an Intersoft Systems' fdPower application at the Ninness Funeral Home in Porirua near Wellington.

Intersoft, based in Napier, develops financial software, but has a number of niche-market applications including fdPower, designed specifically for funeral directors.

“It’s a classic database application,” says Mike Johnson, head of Full Circle Business Solutions, an Intersoft agent which sold the system to Ninness. Entry of the basic details of a death generates documentation ranging from the compilation of a formal death notice for Internal Affairs to notification of burial for the local authority.

Workflow and logging routines ensure everything goes through smoothly and nothing is lost.

Until now deaths have been registered on paper forms which are re-keyed or optically recognised by Datamail for DIA, with potential for error. The online connection allows the funeral director, with first-hand knowledge of the death, to enter the data directly, says Ninness owner John Duncan.

At present, it goes to the DIA system as an email attachment consisting of a text string in which the separate data fields are delimited by square brackets and vertical bars. The fdPower system is programmed in Virtual Basic and built around a Microsoft Access database.

A proposal to be allowed to generate the death certificate at the funeral office was declined by DIA because of data integrity requirements, says Duncan. Ninness was chosen as a medium-sized funeral director and therefore an appropriate triallist. Other firms are about to trial online submission using different applications.

Duncan is president of the Funeral Director’s Association of New Zealand.

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