In order to correct anomalies in the local 911 map, the DeKalb County Emergency Communications District has announced that the addresses of approximately five hundred locations are being changed as the state converts to the new Next Generation 911 digital system, a move which is expected to mean more reliable service throughout Tennessee.
Letters are being sent to DeKalb County residents who will be affected by the changes.
Brad Mullinax, Director of the DeKalb County Emergency Communications District (911 center), told WJLE Thursday that the state is requiring that these changes be made. "We have some addressing anomalies that have been brought to our attention by the state. We're undergoing some major changes with 911 in Tennessee and these changes will make for difficult times for some people in our community. The end result is going to be good but it will be a little bit of an inconvenience to some of our citizens. Basically we have to send our maps to the state Geographical Information Systems (GIS) office. We did that but they have sent those maps back to us after checking them. We started out with about 2,100 addressing anomalies across the county but we've been able to sort through and fix about 1,600 of these without having to change people's addresses. Unfortunately we found about 500 addresses that are so bad and so wrong that we're having to change them. I know this is not popular with folks and it's a time consuming process for people to have to change their address but unfortunately we don't have any choice. These changes are necessary in order to comply with the new state mandated NG911 ," said Mullinax
Last September, the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board (TECB) announced the completion of the first phase of the state's conversion to Next Generation 911 (NG911). "We're going through an upgrade right now and it's called Next Generation 911," said Mullinax. " Its basically going to be a large IP based network that will connect all 911 centers in the state of Tennessee. With that change, the calls are actually going to be routed out of Nashville. Our maps are going to have to be correct at the selective router in Nashville for them to decide which county the calls should be routed to. We're having to fix these addressing anomalies so that the state computer will know which way these calls need to be routed," said Mullinax.
According to Mullinax, the DeKalb ECD has the authority to change the numbers of street addresses but not road names. That is left up to the county and the cities. "We're granted that power (address changes) by state law. Its very systematic the way we do these addresses. We go out and measure each road. We have a formula that we plug the measurements into to come up with your address," said Mullinax. "What we're changing is just the numbering itself. We do not have the authority to change road names, that has to be acted on by the county commission or the city of Smithville, whichever governing body oversees those streets. We do have some road names that have been changed by the county commission. We're sending out letters notifying folks of these street name changes and then we're giving them a new address with their new street name. But we (DeKalb ECD) are not changing any street names. We don't have the authority to do that. We're just passing on and re-addressing those numbers based on these new street names," said Mullinax.
In many cases, the so called "anomalies" involve odd numbered addresses on the side of the roads where even numbered addresses are supposed to be and vice versa. "Its all over the county," said Mullinax.. "There is no particular area. They go from the city of Smithville all the way from the east to the west and from the north to the south. We're running into problems all over the county. Many of these are numbers that we found that are addressed on the wrong side of the road. For instance, we have an odd number on the even (number) side of the road or an even number on the odd (number) side of the road. Basically what that means is that if you're going up a road, the odd numbered (addresses) should be on the lefthand side of the road and the even numbered (addresses) should be on the right. So if we have a mixture (of odd and even numbers on the same side of the street) we have to correct those because they will not map," said Mullinax.
Some residents affected have already received their letters and have expressed an unwillingness to go along with the changes, according to Mullinax. "We've had some people say they're not going to change their address. You probably could have gotten by with that a few years ago but with the new advances in technology at the postal service, the way they deliver mail is directly affected by the address that we (DeKalb ECD) give the post office so it is crucial for you to change your address when we stipulate for you to do so because if you don't there is a chance you won't get your mail. It may get sent back. We are notifying everyone (affected) and once you get that letter, its pretty clear on the date when the address (change) is supposed to be effective. We're also sending a copy of that letter to their post office. We're encouraging people to notify their utilities of their changes. We're giving everybody at least a thirty day notice to change these addresses. I want to apologize to the citizens of our county for having to do this but we are doing it for their best interest. We want to be able to find them in the event of an emergency and for there not to be any kind of delay in finding them." said Mullinax.
In its September media release, the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board (TECB) announced that the core infrastructure of the Next Generation 911 (NG911) will allow individual 911 centers across the state to connect to NG911.
"The completion of Phase I of the NG911 project is a significant milestone," said TECB Chair Randy Porter. "We want to thank our partners at AT&T and TCS for their efficient and effective work. We're now ready to test the core and move forward with the next phase – connecting local 911 centers to the core."
NG911 is essentially a digital version of 911 transmitted over the State of Tennessee's existing statewide Internet Protocol (IP) network, NetTN. The conversion is similar to converting televisions from analog to digital. In this case, 911 trunks are being converted from antiquated, copper-wire technology to the latest in digital communications capability.
"NG911 will mean more reliable 911 services for our citizens," said TECB Executive Director Lynn Questell. "It will allow for uninterrupted service in the case of power outages and other disasters that may knock out a 911 center. Call transfers will be seamless and the system will have 100 percent redundancy – essentially meaning that if one center goes out, a fully functioning backup will be available. The bottom line is NG911 will mean the very best technology is being deployed to keep Tennessee citizens safe."
The core infrastructure of the NG911 network includes four centers to aggregate emergency communications traffic. These centers are in Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga. Additionally, two centers provide traffic routing of 911 calls.
The Tennessee Emergency Communications Board ensures that every citizen can effectively access the life-saving power of 911. The TECB is composed of nine members from across the state of Tennessee – including five 911 professionals and representatives of cities, counties and the general public. It is administratively attached to the Department of Commerce and Insurance, which works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. www.tn.gov/commerce/