Changes on the way with county’s 9-1-1 addresses

By Gwen Sisson

Toby Sandford, GIS Manager/Senior Analyst for the Golden Triangle Regional Planning and Development District, said no one likes change, but sometimes change is needed.

“The creation of this addressing system is to make sure that an ambulance is there as soon as possible when someone needs it,” Sandford said.  “Anyone who has ever sat and waited on an ambulance to arrive understands the need for such an advanced addressing system.  The county will reap much benefit from this system, and all that is needed is a change of physical address and a number at the end of a driveway.”

Sandford said toward the end of 2014, the residents of Winston County will be notified of the address change.  A post card with a picture of their house will be mailed to the existing address. The card will have the new address and all important information about the change.  Once the residents of Winston County are notified of this change, they have a year to use their existing address for mailing.  All mail sent to the “old” address will be delivered for a period of one year.  Once the year has lapsed, they must use the “new” address.  This allows people to use up old checks, old letterhead, and anything with the “old” address.  Anyone who uses a post office box will not be affected other than changing the numbers at the end of their driveway.

Louisville Mayor Will Hill agreed that change is needed.

“As the saying goes, ‘the only constant in life is change,’ so goes E911,” Hill said. “Over the past couple of years, the City of Louisville and Winston County working with the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District GTPDD have undergone a mapping project to make corrections and prepare our county for the next phase in Emergency 911 operations for Winston County. Although address changes are not popular and seem to cause confusion or unwanted stress, the changes themselves are for the long-term and overall good of public safety.  It is not something the local elected officials decided to do just because it could be done, it is for the purpose of providing more efficient response in times of need.  The City of Louisville and Winston County humbly ask for all citizens for their cooperation and understanding through this process.  We are confident in the services of the GTPDD to help us in every step of the way.”

Sandford said field mapping for this project has been completed for the county and city, logging inventory of houses with state-of-the-art GPS and data logger.  He said each mapped structure has attribute values of house type (Single Wide, Double Wide, Brick House, Wood Frame, Metal, Barn, Etc.) and if it is a residence or business.  All structures have a photo taken and linked to the logged point. A component of the countywide field mapping includes characterizing road/street length and surface characteristics for an accurate county road map. Sandford said as part of this process, the county will now know exactly how many miles of gravel or paved roads are in its inventory.

Sandford said work continues as they get ready to institute this program. They need to complete correcting the county’s street centerline road file. He said this involves making sure all roads are exactly where they are and have the correct road name from the county road register.   Sandford said along with correcting the County’s digital street data, GTPDD GIS Staff are finding all existing addresses that are attached to each structure.

“Every structure in a county is required to have a 911 address by MS Code, but not all addresses are posted as required,” Sandford said.  “When field mapping the county, if a logged house does not have the address posted at the mail box or the driveway with a sign, there is no way to know what the existing address is for that house. The house is mapped, and it has a ‘new’ correct mailing address. But the ’old’ address has not been linked to the ’new’ address. There are ways of finding this out, but it takes some leg work.”

Sandford said information can be obtained from the post office, but not everyone receives rural mail service.  He said some people only receive mail at the post office, and the post office does not have record of the rural addresses.

Sandford said information is reported from the local officials, as well as residents, to help with the addressing procedure. The GTPDD GIS Department has completed addressing systems for five different counties.  Some addresses are not completed until the addressing system is up and running. GIS completes up to 90 percent of all “old” addresses linked to the “new” address before mailing out the notice of address change.  Once the address change cards are mailed, usually another eight percent of “new” addresses are clarified from people calling and inquiring about the address change.  The other two percent is linked as time passes.

Sandford said the entire project is funded by the Appalachia Regional Commission, (ARC) Grant, and no additional money is required for completion.

“Many counties pay for this out of pocket with no help from outside sources,” Sandford said. “This project will bring Winston County into the 21st century with an advanced mapping system. This project’s objective is to help Winston County become safer as well as save lives.”

Sandford said Winston County residents will experience so many benefits from this type of addressing system.

• One benefit is mapping websites and travel assistants for automobiles will plot all addresses on the driveway, and all roads will have correct spelling.

• The County will have a complete account and inventory of everything within the county at a moment’s notice.

• School District officials can create the most efficient bus routes for their students and save time and resources.  Choctaw School District saved $85,000 dollars a 180-day school year by rerouting the school buses.

• The tax roll can be checked to make sure every mobile home, house, and/or structures are accounted for.  The Tax Assessor can query any property by entering Parcel ID or owner name and access needed information.

• Property split updates on map and database become easy.

• The Circuit Clerk’s voter roll can be verified by each district and voting precinct to remove any voter roll error if any. The Circuit Clerk or Election Commissioners can accurately identify residents within any precinct or political boundary.  The Chancery Clerk can readily search and access property deeds.

• The 911 Coordinator can view caller location on screen and get directions based on the shortest route to the closest facility.

• The Sheriff’s office can create crime analysis maps using history of break-ins.

• Public Safety officials can have ready assessment tools to address hazard mitigation and/or disaster preparedness.

• Citizens get information instantaneously on land use, zoning, voting precincts, and political boundaries.

• Census, economic, and infrastructure map data provide valuable information on planning alternatives for businesses, industries, redistricting or other developmental projects.

• Fire Response Areas and Fire Districts can be evaluated for a better coverage area.  Use of the data can lower residents’ insurance rates.  Rated fire districts can be created using accurate five road miles from the location of the fire station.  Creation of the fire station can be calculated, and the best locations for a new station can be determined with accurate results.

• It will be possible to demonstrate how much money property owners can save if the county’s insurance class is changed to a lower rate.

• This property data can be merged with the county tax roll and analyzed with a benefit/cost ratio for insurance and taxes. For example, a newly rated fire district that covers 1,000 homes saved one-third on insurance rates when the district changed from a Class 10 to a Class 8. Some larger homes in the rated district can save as much as $1,000 per year in insurance without any anticipated increase in property taxes.

•  All cellular 911 calls can be located to within 30 feet, as regulated by Mississippi Code of 1972, to make the County Phase II compliant.

•  The 911 dispatcher will have all resources needed to make sure all 911 calls are not misrouted which saves lives and property.  The dispatcher will have a picture of every structure from where the call originated and can tell the first responders important information from the map data.

The re-addressing project is under the direction E-911 National Standard for Addressing. According to the standards, there is an address every 5.28 feet. Since there are 5,280 feet in a mile, this gives Winston County the potential for 1,000 addresses per mile.

“This does not mean there will be 1,000 addresses per mile, but that address 1,000 is exactly one mile from the beginning of the road,” Sandford said.

According to the standards, the addresses are derived from the distance of the driveway from the beginning of the road. If a resident has address 1,000, they are one mile from the beginning of the road, and address 2,000 is two miles from the beginning of the road. Also address 2,000 is one mile from address 1,000 or 1one mile from address 3,000.

For roads that travel North/South, the numbering starts from the south with address one and travels north for the length of the road, according to the standards. For roads that travel East/West, the numbering starts from the West with address one and travels East for the length of the road. Numbers start from beginning of road, even numbers are on the right side, and odd numbers are on the left side.

For hanging roads (roads that are a dead end) the numbering starts with the beginning of the road (where it touches the main road) and travels the direction to the dead end. This allows for the addition of new addresses to the existing road, in the event of future road expansions. This allows for quick calculation of address distance from the beginning of the road and also allows for easy calculation of road ranges.

If a road has ranges of one to 1,500, one being the first address and 1,500 being the last address, the road is 1.5 miles long. If the supervisor line for district 4 and 5 crosses this road at address 750, that means addresses one to 749 are in district 4, and addresses 750 to 1,500 are in district 5.

Sandford said the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District Inc. has created this addressing system for five other counties, including: Choctaw, Clay, Oktibbeha, Noxubee and Webster.

“All of these counties have received all the benefits mentioned,” Sandford said. “Benefits are from saving money on routing/county services to saving lives. Saving lives is what this is created for, it is to decrease the amount of time it takes a first responder to find a residence when seconds really matter and to stop misrouted 911 calls.”

For more information about the 911 addressing changes, contact Sandford.