published Friday, April 25th, 2014

Chattanooga, Hamilton County launch 911 address verification

Adam Stokstad, geographical information systems
specialist, explains how the GeoComm team will
verify addresses with GPS throughout Hamilton
County for first responders.
Adam Stokstad, geographical information systems specialist, explains how the GeoComm team will verify addresses with GPS throughout Hamilton County for first responders.
Photo by Tim Barber.

If Hamilton County residents notice specially marked SUVs cruising around their neighborhoods in the coming months, there is no reason to be alarmed.

Geo-Comm, a Minnesota-based company specializing in public safety geographic information systems, started an address verification project Wednesday designed to help local first responders know exactly where they are going when dispatched, officials said. Geo-Comm workers will travel every road in the county between now and October to document the GPS coordinates of every building. The move should help Chattanooga get up to speed on the most efficient 911 dispatch strategies.

"Some of our data is good, but we don't feel confident enough to be able to use it for emergency services," said John Stuermer, 911 Emergency Communication District executive director.

"When we're dealing with emergency responses, the minutes and seconds actually matter," Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said. "This is something that as time goes on, you will see that it will save lives."

A letter will be sent to county residents to inform them of what Geo-Comm is doing and what will happen if questions arise.

"If there is an address with a question about it, people will receive a little packet encouraging them to fill out the information so that we can start the verification process, talk a little bit, work through our info processes and ensure the address they have is the correct one," Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said.

Adam Stokstad of Geo-Comm said his interactions with Hamilton County residents have been positive so far.

"If you get up in the mountains of Montana ... where people really don't want you hanging around, that can get a little interesting," Stokstad said. "Down here everybody has been pretty friendly so far."

Contact staff writer David Cobb at 423-757-6731 or dcobb@timesfreepress.com.

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