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Front Page » March 18, 2008 » Local News » Wellington Supports GPS Address System
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Wellington Supports GPS Address System

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Sun Advocate reporter

Change is in the air and navigating the streets in Carbon County may look a lot different.

Benjamin Clement from the county's geographic information systems made a pitch to the Wellington City Council at the March 12 meeting concerning support for revolutionizing addresses. He found a receptive audience for his somewhat complex proposal.

"I want to invite you to join with Carbon County in using latitude and longitude," said Clement. "Currently, we have seven different addressing systems."

Clement began his campaign to bring the county fully into the computer age at a Dec. 12 Carbon commission meeting. He came equipped with a Power Point presentation which answered about any question that could arise about the system.

At the meeting, the commissioners and the audience listened as Clement tried to break down what seemed at times akin to a calculus problem. It was a bit mind boggling to envision how people would commonly apply an address like 39.59932, 110.89826 instead of plain 159 East Main St.

At Wellington's meeting, Clement's proposal was not quite as complicated.

"Because the majority of the county is in latitude 39 and longitude 110, you wouldn't need those numbers," he said. "So it could actually be pared down to something like 1234 north and 5678 West. When you go to Salt Lake City you would see something very close to that already."

If the change were made. Clement said the city would just have to add blades with the new numbers under the existing road signs.

He explained that this type of system would boost the ability of emergency services to locate instantly any residents or structures in need of help because computers can more accurately process latitude and longitude.

"In most cases, we are looking to get the computers to work better for us," said Clement, indicating that this would be one time humans would aid computers.

Concerns at the Wellington meeting echoed the ones raised by commissioners Dec. 12.

"If the house numbers are to change, what are going to be the ramifications?" asked Mayor Karl Houskeeper. "Would we be able to do cross referencing from the start?"

Commissioner Mike Milovich expressed similar concerns.

"I could just see some of the old folks trying to call up and say I am at latitude and longitude," said the commissioner.

But Milovich added that it would be OK as long as he and others could just use old address as well.

Clement agreed that, when officials try and change addresses, there is significant backlash from the community.

He suggested that the change be made over a period of time and, in the beginning, it would be used mostly by government offices and emergency services.

However, Clement said developers who came with new properties would be given latitude and longitude addresses.

Houskeeper asked Clement why it was so important to him to have the county come on board with the change.

"Because it makes my life easier," said Clement, smiling. "I've been GIS manager for seven years and addresses are the bane of my existence."

The council in the least who laughed along with Clement.

While he admits that Carbon County may be the first county in the nation to go to this system, it isn't a new idea.

According to an article titled "GPS Explained" on www.kowoma.des: "As shortly ago as in 1883, on an international geodetic conference in Rome , the prime meridian was set to go through Greenwich in England. One reason why Greenwich was chosen is, that as a consequence, the international date line runs through the Pacific.

With the advent of GPS, Clement maintains that the time is particularly right for moving into official use of the system and said that he sees this as the wave of the future.

"I deal with technology all day long," he said. "And I see in my technological crystal ball that there's no way this can be avoided. I really see this coming as governments and businesses start to adapt to it."

The majority of the council jumped on board. But Councilmember Marvin Willson had some concerns.

"With my job, I am looking for addresses all day," he said. "I don't have a GPS in my truck and I can't see the company putting one in."

Clement assured Willson that the time saved with the system would be worth the cost of GPS.

"For about $100 during the bluelight special,'you can buy one," he said.

A unanimous vote for supporting Clement followed Councilman Glen Wells motion.

"I have heard enough, let's get on board," said Wells.

The Wellington council meets the second and fourth Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the city hall.

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