by Geoff Fox
Washington County 911 will be conducting a study in the Hancock area starting in January 2020 to make sure addresses are correct as they begin a new 911 system for emergency responders.
The Next Generation 911 system isn’t just coming to Washington County, it’s going to be a nationwide rollout.
This new system will improve the infrastructure of the 911 system around the country, said Bud Gudmundson, the county Geographic Information System (GIS) manager.
Gudmundson said once the new system is running, people can text 911 or even stream live video to the 911 Center.
His office, along with the Planning Department, is in charge of maintaining all addresses for Washington County.
When the new system is up and running, it will locate people through maps instead of lists.
“Right now, when you call 911, you have a list. The telephone number comes up and it shows your address and that’s how they dispatch people,” Gudmundson said.
With the Next Gen 911, it will map-based so that when a call comes in via landline or cellphone, the address will be plotted on a map so the first responders can be dispatched.
Gudmundson said in order to do that, addresses around the county need to be as accurate as possible.
The Planning Department has been going through their maps of addresses “for a while now” to find any errors and make corrections if needed.
The other part of the operation is to make sure all new addresses are accurate and consistent.
“What we are proposing is that the county would take over the address assignment for all municipalities, small municipalities, in Washington County so that there is consistency throughout,” he said.
This would be done so there would be no duplication of street names and everything is done in a consistent manner.
He said the process is striving for 98% accuracy, “but we’re going to go for 100% accuracy.”
Gudmundson said the county commissioners have approved a memorandum of understanding.
The presentation of the MOU from Gudmundson to the Town of
Hancock was one of the first he has done.
When it comes to changing names of streets that could be duplicates, Pennsylvania Avenue and Main Street in Hancock fall into that category.
Gudmundson said they would not be renamed because “that’s too big of a pill to swallow.”
The process the county is looking to do has already been done as a pilot program in Leitersburg.
Jennifer Kinzer, GIS coordinator, said there were 1,000 addresses in Leitersburg and 56 addresses had errors.
Kinzer said of those 56 addresses, 52 turned out to be actual errors wi
th the other four being errors in the GIS data.
Those 52 out of 1,000 addresses had to be changed, she said.
In Hancock, she said, there are “in the neighborhood” of 2,000 addresses, but one of those addresses is Quaker Creek apartments which translates to 48 addresses — each apartment has its own specific address instead of the normal building address and unit number.
This leaves odd and even numbers on the same side of the road,
providing a problem for Next Gen 911 and first responders.
With the number of addresses double those in Leitersburg, Kintzer said the number of errors are trending that way for Hancock.
She did note there were no name changes to any streets or roads, however there were some lanes named.
“The addressing ordinance states if there are more than three addressable structures back a private lane, that lane needs to be named,” she said.
Kintzer said all the lane namings are moving smoothly with the landowners submitting and voting on the names.
There are a couple in Hancock that might need to be renamed, Kintzer said.
The consistency benefits first responders who may not be familiar with the town so they can find places.
Any of the changes would not affect any deed already on record, however citizens would have six months to change addresses for licenses, bills, and subscriptions.
The only costs to residents would be buying address numbers for their mailbox or house.
The county would be responsible for any street signs installed.
As long as address numbers are in sequence, odds and evens, local addresses won’t be changed.
Along Main Street, at least on the east side of the 522 bridge, there are four addresses that need to be changed because some of them have ½ in the address and Next Gen 911 can’t accept that designation, Kinzer said.
Businesses and restaurants won’t be affected by the changes, she added.
The Next Gen 911 survey will take place in January 2020.