(TNS) - The Duncan, Okla., City Council heard the need for the city to make changes to some of the streets and addresses to make Duncan compliant and compatible with the new 911 system coming in the next several years.
City Manager Kimberly Meek said giving the city the authority to make changes was imperative to the 911 system.
“In order to serve the health, welfare and safety of the citizens of Duncan, it is necessary to revise the code of city of Duncan to adopt an ordinance that will establish standards for naming streets, posting street signs, posting address numbers and providing a uniform system of assigning address numbers to all dwellings, principle buildings, businesses and industries,” Meek said. “The primary goal of this is to provide emergency service agencies with a complete set of accurate addresses so that emergency victims be located with greater sufficiency.”
The cost of of changing signs was brought up and Alex Henry, public works director, said the actually cost of a sign was around $75 for the sign and a post, and around $40 or $50 for a sign itself.
The city was unsure at this time how many streets might have to be changed.
Police Chief Danny Ford said they have not done a comprehensive survey as of yet.
“We’ve gone through and looked at some of the major streets which will need to be renamed — you can’t have ‘Oak-this’ and ‘Oak-that’ or something like ‘Primrose Circle,’ ‘Primrose Court,’ ‘Primrose Lane,’ because the computer reads on the first seven digits of the (address) system and that particular piece of equipment is in St. Louis,” Ford said. “That’s where AT&T is, which were given the sole proprietor on 911 for the United States. Those standards are set by NEMA, which is the National Emergency Management Association nation-wide.”
Ford said those standards were based on a grid and most follow a certain pattern for Duncan’s map to be uploaded correctly to the system in St. Louis.
“If (an address) is outside of the grid, the computer accepts we will still get the 911 phone call, but if someone was not in a position where they could talk and that address was not inside that grid, then we would not get an address on the system,” he said. “We have a large screen in there that gives us the expected location, tells when it locates that, it tells us within meters the probability of a person being located there.”
Ford gave an example of a recent call that was only a scream and some background noise before it hung up. The 911 system gave an an approximate location within a bubble of 1,700 meters which works out to close to a full mile.
“It’s more accurate in the city because you have more cell towers,” he said. “It’s supposed to be – when we get it completed – accurate within three meters of a location.”
There is a more pressing reason to get the city in compliance.
“The other side of that is the mandate that comes down,” he said. “When we have some kind of disaster like the ice storm of 2010 or some other kind of disaster, if you are not in compliance there are two things. One … through FEMA, they can withhold your funds. That has happened in southwest Oklahoma. Not only that, they can withhold your 911 funds, that has also happened in southwest Oklahoma in the last year.”
Ford warned that even if the city was making slow progress these agencies could cut off funding if it was not to their satisfaction.
The streets and residences near the lakes have already been done.
Councilwomen Patty Wininger asked when these mandates had been issued, and the reply was 1998.
“While it will cause some consternation to the citizens who are really tied to their street, it’s very confusing in Duncan when you think the addresses are going up and they should and then they are low,” Wininger said. “It’s kind of a crazy system we’ve hodge-podged for a long time. We’ve been been given national and state guidelines and we are behind so we have to make this ordinance and go forward if this city is going to make progress and go forward.”
A question about why 911 couldn’t use GPS on cellphone calls came from the public.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), cellphone providers do not have to provide the GPS technology to 911 centers.
The FCC and the four largest cellphone carriers say they’re doing their best to address the problem. In 2015, they worked together on a new federal rule that requires carriers to steadily increase the percentage of cellphone calls to 911 that transmit location data.
The rules, crafted in part by the carriers, call for delivery of location data for 40 percent of cellphone calls by 2017 and 80 percent by 2021.
The ordinance was approved and an emergency clause to make the ordinance effective immediately was also passed.
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