Carbon County Commission hears innovative address change proposal
A computer guru presented the county commissioners with a proposal Dec. 12 to get rid of old addresses such as 120 East Main and replace them with new ones like lat. 39.34867, long. 110.80808.
Benjamin Clement from geographic information systems captured the attention of county officials and residents who attended the commission meeting as he walked through a presentation on addresses. His Power Point slides addressed all possible questions.
"I propose that we tie situs addresses to ones determined by latitude and longitude," said Clement.
While the concept seemed complicated, Clement came prepared.
His second slide provided a definition of address from Wikipedia that read an address is "a code and abstract concept expressing a location on the earth's surface."
Apparently, the code part was the inspiration for the suggestion of moving to the precise indicators of where residences or the local library are (39.59932 -110.80826 or 159 East Main).
Clement said one of the key advantages of the system would be the aid it would provide to 911 dispatch in sending rescue to a caller.
With the advent of global positioning systems, how official agencies track citizens has moved to the latitude and longitude coordinates.
While the argument seemed logical, the commissioners had some concerns.
"I could just see some of the old folks trying to call up and say I am at latitude and longitude," said Commissioner Mike Milovich.
Milovich said he would be OK with such a system as long as he and others were able to use regular address as well.
"I'm a little slow and geography was never my strong point," said Milovich.
However, one commissioner seemed pretty excited by the concept.
"Addresses would be reduced to an ordered pair of numbers," commented Commissioner Bill Krompel.
Clement went on with his lesson that in today's computer driven society this type of numbering system makes perfect sense as he referred back to the Wikipedia description for address.
"The problem is the abstract part," explained the slide. "Computers deal well with codes while people deal well with abstract concepts."
Clement noted that the current situs - regular addresses - aren't as seamless for the computers to read. Consequently, at times, critical data is lost.
Recognizing that trying to change all the addresses in the county might wreak a bit of havoc, Clement suggested starting the system whenever a new one is issued and then work on changing over the others over a period of time.
"The county would assign an address when a developer or builder applies for a new address," he said.
As for a tried and true system somewhere else in the country on which to base the success of the latitude and longitude addresses, there isn't one apparently.
"Is anybody else doing this?" asked Commissioner Steve Burge.
Without skipping a beat or losing a bit of enthusiasm, Clement replied, "No one else is but that wouldn't stop me."
The item was informational only and the commissioners took no official action on the proposal.
The commissioners suggest ed that Clement flesh out the concept further and explain the system to the county officials at a more one-on-one session.