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County mapped for GPS

911 Director Joel Howell 911 Director Joel Howell

December 19, 2003

Sylvester-- The Worth County emergency dispatchers are going high-tech. They'll soon rely on satellite technology to help dispatch emergency personnel.

Worth County 911 dispatchers have no time to spare when they take a call. They have just seconds to determine what the emrgency is, who to send and where to send them, a process that can be slowed down when they have to flip through county map books.

"Our mapping shows the street the resident has called from, but we actually have to look at a map book to find out what range of the street that house should be in," says 911 Director Joel Howell.

Pinpointing a call gets even more complicated when it comes from a cell phone or rural location when dispatchers can only give responders a range of area in which to look.

For the next three months, 911 Director Joel Howell will map the entire county using satellite technology, and get exact coordinates for every telephone line in the county. "What I want to do is get the GPS points for the houses, for any mile markers and fire hydrants."

He also takes a picture of every residence and business, so in addition to knowing the latitude and longitude of a location, dispatchers and responders will also know exactly what the location looks like just by looking at their monitors.

"If I GPS everything - railroad tracks, ponds, landmarks, houses, stop signs - it will allow us, when a cell phone caller calls in, we'll be able to pinpoint them, so we'll know within 150 feet where they are standing."

Essentially taking all the guesswork out of emergency dipatching and giving responders valuble life-saving time. Howell will start in the northern part of the county and work his way south, with a projected completion date of March.

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