County discusses GIS mapping for rural addresses

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The Socorro County Commission discussed GIS mapping during its regular meeting Tuesday, and the commission made tentative plans for a special work session in January for a more detailed discussion of the matter.

GIS, or geographic information system, is a system for capturing, storing, analyzing, managing and presenting all types of geographical data in digital format. GIS mapping will enhance the county’s management of roads and 911 emergency response.

Gail Rogers, who works in the county’s GIS mapping and rural addressing department, referred to a roads layer in the GIS system and said she wants to accept the current layer as it is so her department can proceed to assign the 911 system addresses.

A GIS layer is a collection of specified elements, such as roads, that can be viewed together with other layers for a complete overview of an area. Other layers may include buildings, trees or other elements.

Rogers said she was not certain if the commission had ever accepted or ever seen several of the road names in the layer, but if that layer could be accepted she would have a base to go from and can assign the 911 system addresses so dispatch and emergency units can easily find them. Rogers said she spoke with the postmaster over Arizona and New Mexico, who was in agreement and would like the file sent to him as soon as it is approved.

Rogers said it would be a cumbersome task for the commission to go through each street name one by one.

“If there’s areas of concern you have, we can look at it together,” Rogers said.

Rogers said the GIS road layer has already been created and put in place. She said the commission only needs to accept the layer and the street names as correct, then she can look through each part of the county and note where there are issues. For instance, she said there are 11 locations addressed as 363 San Lorenzo Road; they are distinguished from one another by letters added onto the end.

“And the people actually live on Campbell Road,” Rogers said. “But I don’t know if Campbell Road is in the system yet, as far as the commission approving it.”

Rogers said if the commission can accept the roads as they are, she can tell the people their addresses should be Campbell rather than San Lorenzo and proceed with fixing such issues.

County Clerk Rebecca Vega asked if Rogers can work with her office so when addresses are changed, people can be notified that they need to change their voter registration because her office needs correct addresses for voter registration. Rogers said that was the postmaster’s concern as well.

Rogers said they will probably create a form letter to notify everyone whose address changes, and the letter will also be sent to the clerk’s office, the treasurer’s office and the postmaster so everyone will be on the same page.

County manager Delilah Walsh asked if the road layer was the old one, before all the “weird changes happened.”

Rogers said several people have added names and changed names in the roads layer without going through proper channels, then they gave the layer to the roads department and it was overwritten.

“So we don’t have the original roads layer,” Rogers said.

Rogers wanted the county to accept the roads layer as is so issues can be fixed, and then get procedures in place to fix issues through her office correctly. For a resident’s request, Rogers would like a procedure for the resident to petition everyone who lives on the road and bring it to the clerk’s office, and then the clerk’s office would bring it before the commission for approval.

“What happened in the past was we had an individual just naming roads to whatever she wanted to, and didn’t come through the commission,” Walsh said. “Where that’s the process, your neighbors are informed, you have a public hearing, you come to the commission where it’s approved. And she was just assigning names.”

Rogers said another problem that arose from the indiscriminate naming is she has addresses in her system that 911 dispatch doesn’t have in their system.

“So we have people out there without access to emergency (services),” Rogers said.

Rogers said she had 341 pages of Excel spreadsheet full of road data. Walsh said it is a huge document of not just road names, but also addresses. Rogers said multiple maps would have to be produced for the commission’s perusal.

Commission chairman and District 4 Commissioner Daniel Monette said the commission should set a special work session to peruse the materials. Walsh asked Rogers when she can get the materials ready for the work session, and Rogers said she has some maps produced but needs to get more ready. She said they can probably hold the work session in January.

Walsh said the work session will be scheduled when Rogers has a better idea when she can have materials ready.