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Committee to plan GPS addresses authorized May 23, 2009

Posted by Bahadir Sahin in English, Haber (News).
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Wilkes County commissioners on Tuesday night unanimously approved creation of a committee to study and make recommendations on assigning new 911 street addresses based on Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates.

Any point on Earth can be exactly and consistently identified with satellite-based GPS coordinates that tie in with longitude and latitude lines, thereby making them compatible with other GPS-based digital map layers.
When County Commissioner Gary Blevins made the motion to approve creation of the committee, he recommended that the committee keep others informed to avoid making recommendations that ultimately aren’t approved.

Wilkes Sheriff Dane Mastin said he would appoint people to the committee who represent the town and county governments in Wilkes and other government agencies and businesses with activities closely involved with street addresses.

Mastin agreed when Blevins said assigning new street addresses would likely stir controversy because it would result in people having to change everything with their street addresses.

Mastin and Major Greg Minton, spearheading the project for the sheriff’s department, said GPS-based addresses would improve delivery of emergency services because they would be consistent and compatible with other map and directional systems.

Minton said the new address system would be an additional map layer to go along with aerial photography, topography, soil type, floodplain, watershed and highway map layers, all available from the county mapping office. He also praised County Mapper Vic Spencer for his assistance.

Mastin and Minton said the current address system is inconsistent and sometimes difficult for emergency personnel to follow due to road changes and road additions, new residential development and other factors.
Among other places, inconsistency in the sequence of address numbers is apparent where roads go from the Wilkesboros to outside town limits.

Current 911 addresses in Wilkes outside the Wilkesboros have been based on units of measurement per road mile, with distances determined by vehicle odometers, since the switch was made from a system based on postal routes in 1993.

Generally but not always, a new range of addresses on state secondary roads starts at one intersection and ends at the next intersection. The sequence of address numbers for a road starts at 100 and increases by one every 5.2 feet, with even numbered addresses on the right side of the road and odd numbered addresses on the left as the numbers increase.

Even slightly incorrect measurements of distance become larger, particularly in a situation with a long distance between intersections.

Emergency personnel can use GPS locator devices to find addresses in a GPS-based system. More calls are being made by wireless instead of land phones and the Federal Communications Commission requires that wireless carriers provide the latitude/longitude locations of wireless 911 callers to the 911 centers.

Town Manager Hank Perkins said recently that over the years, developers of some North Wilkesboro neighborhoods assigned street addresses without considering the sequence of surrounding addresses. He said individuals have even assigned themselves street address numbers, typically by estimating what they should be based on nearby addresses.

The Wilkesboro Town Council recently approved a resolution endorsing establishment of the committee for establishment of a GPS-based address system. North Wilkesboro commissioners discussed the matter and agreed by consensus to support the effort, said Town Manager Hank Perkins.

Money for assigning GPS-based addresses in the towns and county would come from the county’s 911 surcharge fund, now with about $1.22 million. This money is from a 911 surcharge of 80 cents included with each monthly cell or land phone bill. Phone companies send the money to state government, which distributes it to county governments.

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