Jefferson County emergency services may have an easier time finding people now that county commissioners have approved a new mapping contract.
Deputy Sheriff Mike Miller said the mapping system the county has been using for 911 services, which he said comes from a company in South Dakota, is outdated.
“Trying to update it is almost like not updating,” he said. “But we’re paying them thousands of dollars a year.”
Miller said updated technology is not the only benefit of switching, however. Multiple counties in the area will contract with GeoSmith Mapping, allowing for a regional map to be developed, Miller said. Commissioner Roger Clark said he thinks it is a good idea for the counties to work together on this.
Miller said currently, the county’s map is accurate for Jefferson County, but less accurate for surrounding counties. Thus, if emergency responders provide help outside of the county, which happens occasionally, they might not know exactly where they are going.
“The problem is, not all 911 calls originate in Jefferson County,” Miller said. “So therefore they could start in Clark County or Bonneville or Madison, we can’t tell exactly where they’re at ‘cause the mapping’s not there.”
Miller told commissioners the GeoSmith Mapping service will also cost less than the current contract, which he said is thousands of dollars a year. The price to initially develop the map with GeoSmith Mapping will cost the county $1,687, with an additional yearly cost of $250 for updates. The money will be drawn from the 911 budget.
“I think it’s a really good deal,” Miller said.
Miller said in a separate interview that the effort on the part of county personnel is also lessened, and updates to the map will happen more quickly.
“It is such a big process that you have to go through to get that map done,” he said about the county’s current map.
He said if the county wanted to, it could update the map daily, though he said updates won’t be quite that frequent.
Miller said the map is just one part that helps emergency responders find their way quickly. He said people also need to have their addresses posted, since responders do not have computers or GPS in their vehicles due to cost prohibition. It is those in the dispatch office that will have the map in front of them.
“No matter how good the mapping is, people have got to get their numbers up,” he said.
He said it is important for people to have numbers on both sides of their mailbox, as responders may come from either direction.
Miller said GeoSmith Mapping will start to provide the county with data while the current vendor is still under contract.
“When I send our current vendor the data,” he said. “Although it’s still a tedious process, I would feel more comfortable about the data we’re sending.”
Miller said the groundwork is already being done to have the GeoSmith map up and running, and said the map should be ready for use soon.