Barnes County 911 Re-Mapping

TR Staff
Staff Writer

By Ellie Boese
Barnes County is now in the midst of re-mapping its rural areas as a part of an enhanced 911 mapping process. Though Barnes County is now converting to this updated system, the Burkle System, the legislature passed the law to mandate these changes for all counties in 1993.
Stark County Emergency Coordinator Kornard Burkle created the system as a way to assign addresses to much of the rural farmland and farms which didn’t have a proper address or had one that wasn’t included in a uniform system. Because of the state’s high ratio of farms and rural areas, and the reality that many rural dwellings lacked proper addresses/weren’t part of a single system, the State Legislature decided that each county needed to convert to the Burkle System for consistency’s sake.
“Back in 1993, the state of ND decided they wanted a seamless path from one county into another county,” Holly Neuberger, Barnes County Assistant Dispatch Coordinator says. “Each county seemed to be an ‘island unto themselves,’ with their own way of addressing. This task to make the address changes was attempted in the past but for whatever reason fell a little short.”
She goes on to say that North Dakota’s statewide 911 Mapping changes will create a “seamless” system. This means that incidents that happen in any part of the state will be easily located by officials both in the county and those assisting from surrounding areas.
“In case of an incident in any part of the state, the Radio systems used by emergency personnel will not be limited to their own county,” Neuberger says. “Locating the different incidents for a responding agency coming into Morton County to assist was also trying at times. With uniformity across the State, agencies should never have a problem locating an incident, either within their own county or in another North Dakota County.”
There are around 2,800 addresses in Barnes County that need to be changed, as their current addresses translate incorrectly into new technologies emergency departments now use. Neuberger says that some of these addresses give GPS coordinates that are more than a mile off of the actual property’s location.
Sue Lloyd, Director of Barnes County Emergency Management, addressed this in a November 2018 letter sent to Barnes County residents:
“Over the past decade, 911 has become a more technical system through the implementation of GIS (Global Information System) and GPS (Global Positioning System) mapping programs...Barnes County 911 has installed the Bulberry Mapping System which uses GIS technology, and the new Phase II wireless 911 technology.”
She stated that the Barnes County Commission, in January 2016, agreed to move forward with the readdressing process so that rural residents’ addresses could be updated in order to be properly located by this new technology.
“Numerous residences and commercial properties in the Valley City/Barnes County area have been incorrectly addressed and until now, it was not a problem of great concern,” Lloyd said. “However, with the new technology, each address must comply with the grid organization of the county. If a residence or commercial property is misaddressed, the system will not recognize the location on the map. This could cause critical delays in the dispatch and response times of emergency personnel to the call/emergency. With the correct address in place, we will have a faster, more accurate route to an emergency at every location in the county.”
Neuberger continues by saying that she understands the frustrations residents of Barnes County may be feeling as this process is underway, but she is certain that the positives that come with the changes will more than outweigh the initial growing pains.
“We understand that this is going to be an inconvenience to many and want to apologize for any inconvenience this may cause,” Neuberger says. “However, it is in the best interest of all residents of the Barnes County 911 area to have the entire county addressed correctly to prevent possibly life-threatening delays in access by emergency personnel.”
Barnes County is working with the District Postal Service in Sioux Falls to ensure that any errors made are corrected immediately. Neuberger also wants to clarify that residents with new addresses may see errors when google-mapping the location.
“People will call and tell me that their new address is off because they googled it,” Neuberger says. “The GPS companies such as Google Earth and Garmin come in and take whatever information we already have on our maps. Presently, they are looking at all our old mapping and using that information, which is not always correct.”
Residents can take a look at ND Century Code 57-40.6-10, the section which lays out requirements for implementing the Burkle System.
“They can also check in with their post office just to make sure the address has the correct change done on it,” Neuberger says, “but they have a year to make the changes as they will continue to receive mail from their old and new address for up to that length of time.”