After more than a year of mapping and planning, Douglas County is a month away from offering enhanced 911 emergency telephone service.
Installation of new computerized equipment, which informs dispatchers of a caller's address when an emergency call is received, has started in the dispatch center of the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, 111 E. 11th. The county purchased the equipment in June from Nine One One Inc., Denver, for $197,000.
It will take a couple of weeks for the company to install the equipment, said Ted McFarlane, a member of the enhanced 911 implementation committee. The equipment will then be tested for a couple of more weeks, he said.
After the equipment tests, Southwestern Bell will become involved by the first week in November, McFarlane said.
"We're not certain what the official kickoff day will be," he said. "We've had some snags."
McFarlane said one delay is waiting on the upgrade of the Baldwin telephone system by United Telephone. McFarlane said the upgrade will enable United Telephone to feed emergency calls to Southwestern Bell, which operates the Lawrence telephone system.
Meanwhile, the county continues its work on establishing new addresses for rural residents. The county is moving away from the rural route and box number system to a "grid" system.
In the grid system, township roads are numbered in sequence starting at the county's southwest corner. For instance, roads that run east and west carry numbers such as "N 200," meaning the road is two miles north of the southwest corner.
This change was brought about because the enhanced 911 system needed street addresses for it to work as opposed to rural routes and box numbers.
The county has worked for more than a year on readdressing the county and also has worked with the U.S. Postal Service in the project. Rural postal carriers took the county's maps with them on their rounds to match the rural route addresses to the new grid addresses. The county is almost finished with establishing the new addresses.
Lawrence postmaster Bill Reynolds said he plans to notify rural residents of their new addresses before Christmas. He said rural residents should not use their new addresses until notified by the post office.