By CARL SMITH
Oktibbeha 911 dispatchers and emergency responders will soon have access to the data compiled in the completed county re-addressing plan, County Administrator Don Posey said Tuesday.
Golden Triangle Planning and Development District officials set out to compile a new county addressing system based on mileage and physical locations, compared to the county's previous grid system, as a means to provide first responders with a more accurate emergency map. Mapping employees with the GTPDD went throughout the county and took stock of every structure and road, then assigned each location with a specific address relating to the new system. Recently, county supervisors met with Toby Sanford, GTPDD GIS manager, to rename a small number of county roads which had duplicates or other similarly named entities in Oktibbeha County.
Sanford said the next step in the process is to alert AT&T of the addressing changes. When a county resident dials 911, County Emergency Management Agency Director Jim Britt said address information pertaining to that specific phone number is given to county dispatchers.
"I think we'll step forward pretty quickly (with address implementation in 911 services)," Posey said. "We could have everything in place by the end of January."
With access to location-specific GIS data, Britt said county first responders will provide the area with a greater level of service and safety.
"On our end, once they get the new database up and running, it's just a matter of turning the old one off and the new one on. I know I'll be glad to get to it. Safety is everything," Britt said. "The new system will get the addresses to a consistent format going from the old grid system to a system based on mileage. It's very accurate, and accuracy means a lot."
GTPDD Executive Director Rudy Johnson said his organization's hard work will pay off once the system is in place.
"We've been working on this thing a long time. Once it's up and running, it's going to be the cat's meow," Johnson said. "The response time is going to be unbelievable."
Sanford's GIS work will also be used by the county in other areas once it has the correct software to display extra data overlays. Current county systems, he said, do not have the ability to display the extra amount of data GTPDD has compiled.
"ESRI Shapefiles are the standard (GIS files); we create all of our data in ESRI files," he said. "Not that the county isn't prepared, but the current software can't load Shapefiles."
"In order (to display) the complete package GTPDD has done, some software purchases will need to be done," Posey said. "They've got plats, flood maps, overlays and every structure mapped for us. For example, the circuit clerk will be able to use the data to verify addresses with people in voting precincts, an act that has been difficult in the past."
Sanford said a ballpark price for the software could cost between $50,000 to $100,000. Once the software is purchased, he said, the comprehensive county data would be uploaded quickly.
As for the county's comprehensive plan, updating its emergency register and taking GIS stock of the county is only a portion of the overall plan. Land use, Oktibbeha County Board President Marvell Howard said, was also a part of the plan.
"We've got to go back and revisit the comprehensive plan to see if, in fact, any changes need to be made to it. We wanted an overall idea on how the land is used (in the county.) As far as putting rules and regulations saying, ‘You can't do this' or ‘You can't do that,' that's not in our interest as a board," Howard said. "I think after the new board is in place (in January), that'll be the opportune time to sit and review that plan.”