Houston County E-911 hires crew to organize mapping data for dispatch

GIS systems to pinpoint emergency locations

DOTHAN, Ala. (WSFA) - The City of Dothan-Houston County Communications District Board is moving forward in updating its GIS mapping system used by 911 dispatch operators.

If you call 911 and give the dispatcher your address, you want them to be able to pinpoint your exact location.

“Our job is to make it as easy as possible to make sure police fire or ambulance can get to you as soon as possible,” said E-911 Data Specialist Pam Lowe.

For the last three years, Houston County’s E-911 dispatch has dealt with issues with its GIS mapping. After converting to a new system, some mapping data no longer pinpointed exact address locations when dispatches on emergency calls.

“You’re calling from a home or business or structure, it’s plotting out the point in a road or a field nearby,” said E-911 Director Holly Britain.

The county doesn’t have a department for GIS mapping and Britain says she doesn’t have the manpower to comb through the data.

The Communications Board approved hiring a crew for roughly $14,000 to re-organize data in the system so they know exactly where to send help if you need it.

“We haven’t lost anybody and we’ve been able to find people. This is going to make it that much better, so we’ll make a quicker response time and pinpoint where people are and getting them responses they need,” said Britain.

The mapping process is expected to take six months.

E-911 officials say when crews are conducting field mapping work, they may knock on your home or business to verify an address. As a reminder, you’re asked to make sure your address is visible from the road and if your property sits back farther from the mailbox. E-911 officials ask that you have address numbers displayed on the property.

Copyright 2019 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.