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Helper Council hears address on addresses from GIS chief

Helper's mayor and council listen as Ben Clement explains the reasons for addressing change.

Sun Advocate Reporter

Ben Clement is not running for office, but he is campaigning to promote an idea. The county Geographic Information Systems manager thinks the whole county would be better off changing to a single, uniform addressing system.

Having already spoken to the county commission about the idea, he took his case for change to the Helper City Council last Thursday.

As means of addressing, street names and house numbers are not very sensible, he told the council.

The current system of addressing in Carbon County's cities and unincorporated areas is vague, often confusing, and certainly not uniform, he explained. House numbers on one street in Helper, for example, increase by single digits - 1, 3, 5 - while a block away they change by increments of at least 10 - house 57 could be next door to house 71, for example.

Building numbers that increase in one direction on one street decrease in the same direction on another street.

Clement suggested that it is much more sensible to adopt an addressing system based on the centuries-old and proven method of using latitude and longitude.

Global positioning systems can pinpoint locations these days. With that kind of precision, "What's the point of keeping traditional addresses?" he asked.

He projected slides to show what he meant. Because every point on the planet has its own unique latitude and longitude, everything can be expressed in numbers.

That would mean degrees and fractions of degrees north or south of the equator, and degrees east or west of the Prime Meridian.

The front door of Helper City Hall, for example, is at 39.6858 degrees North, 110.8544 West.

Taking the last two digits of each number, city hall would have a building number of 5844. Instead of Zip Code, city hall would be in zone 39110, or a combination of degrees north and west.

While this may initially seem more complicated than the simple name and number now in use, it is much easier to use with today's hand-held GPS devices people - including kids - are using more and more, he said.

Clement told the council he is not suggesting that people already in town have to adopt the system, including new numbers on their houses, in a hurry. However, new developments in town would be required to use it.

"If we are early adopters of this system, would dispatch know what we're talking about?" asked Mayor Dean Armstrong.

Clement replied that it would be his job as GIS manager to make sure there was no confusion.

Clement also informed the council that address changes are not unheard of in this county. Price, for example, has already readdressed its streets.

The council did not accept or reject the idea, but will work with Clement to study how it would affect the city.

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