E-911 mapping process nears completion

Thursday, April 12, 2007

MSAG LLC, Inc., which was hired by the Barry County Emergency Services E-911 Board of Trustees in March of 2006, is in the final stage of mapping the county for the new E-911 system that could be up and running by the end of this year.

"Everyone outside the cities will be getting a new structure address," said Pat Leighter, E-911 board director. "Each residence will have a house number. The road numbers are basically staying the same."

Currently, MSAG crews are reviewing and proofing acquired mapping information to ensure each area has the correct E-911 address, which will correspond to global positioning system (GPS) coordinates.

After the data is reviewed, MSAG representatives will go door-to-door in order to place E-911 addressing information packets at each residence. Packets will include a resident address card, a post office change of address card and a questionnaire with a postage paid envelope.

Residents are asked to fill out and return the questionnaire, which will be used to compile cross referencing information for the E-911 system. Residents are also asked to include information about any structures that were missed during the mapping process on the questionnaire.

"Addresses with P.O. Box numbers will not change, but rural route box numbers will be history when the mapping process has been completed," said John Franz, MSAG project manager. "If we left the rural routes in place, many buildings would be difficult to find during an emergency.

"Currently many addresses can only be located by the residents or the postal carriers," said Franz. "Also with the current system, the post office can change everybody's address to add new residences on a route."

The new address numbers that MSAG provides will be permanent for the location or structure. The only time a structure's address will change is if it is a mobile home that is moved from one location to another, said Franz.

The new E-911 addresses will be set up in 52.8-foot increments. There will be 100 address numbers available in each mile. Public and private roadways with more than three residences will be given road names or numbers for easier addressing.

After addresses are distributed, residents will be responsible for displaying three-inch numbers on their home that can be viewed from the roadway. Residents who live on private lanes are also asked to place signs with reflective numbers, which face both directions, at the end of the lane.

The mapping company would like to see new address data released by the second week in May, but the information may not be available until later in the month, said Leighter. A press release will be published in local newspapers two weeks before MSAG begins distributing new addressing information to residents.

After the new E-911 addresses have been distributed, mail addressed to old addresses will be forwarded to residents for one year. During that time, the old addresses will run consecutive with the new addresses.

As MSAG begins distributing new addressing information, MSAG representatives will schedule a meeting with all area postmasters to discuss the new addressing system. In addition, MSAG will be working with local telephone companies to develop a comprehensive cross reference of old and new addresses and telephone numbers.

MSAG began the E-911 mapping process in Barry County over a year ago. After translating existing data into digital format, representatives visited the county in order to confirm structure locations.

Mapping crews mapped road centerlines, verified the number of buildings on driveways, mapped building locations and determined if the buildings were occupied or habitable.

Crews determined if barns, stables, sheds or other detached buildings without addresses had telephones. Crews also verified existing addresses, road names and road numbers.

Barry County voters approved a quarter-cent sales tax to finance the county-wide E-911 system in June of 2005.

On March 13, Barry County Emergency Services E-911 Board of Trustees hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the county's new E-911 Operations Center, which will be located off of Business 37 next to Barry Electric Cooperative's headquarters.

The board accepted a $1,698,000 bid from Dalton-Killinger Construction for the new 6,600-square-foot, split level operations center on Feb. 26. Dalton-Killinger will be working on a 210-day build schedule.

After the operations center is completed and dispatching equipment has been installed in the new facility, InterAct Public Safety Systems will be in charge of loading all of the new E-911 addressing information into dispatching service programs. InterAct will also provide all of the E-911 telephones and the computer-aided dispatching (CAD) software for the E-911 system.

"I can't improve the efficiency of an ambulance driver," said Leighter, "but this system will cut the response time considerably. When a dispatcher looks at the screen, they will be able to see exactly where the call is coming from. It will definitely improve emergency services in Barry County."

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