Sunday, March 1, 2009

a road that doesn't exist

many times on various DC blogs and listservs i have read about people having difficulties dealing with emergency dispatchers.

when calling about an emergency on ridge street NW (a one-block street between 4th and 5th streets and M and N streets), residents have complained that dispatchers are convinced that they're talking about either riggs road (a major artery in northeast DC near the fort totten metro station) or riggs street (a short street that runs from 13th to 19th streets NW, with gaps). clearly, dispatchers are either hearing things incorrectly or are not as familiar with DC geography as we might hope they would be.

that said, what happens if your road doesn't exist? now, i don't mean you're making the road up, of course. i mean, what if the district, for whatever reason, didn't have your road in their database. for all intents and purposes, you might as well be floating somewhere in space (or at least over the river in virginia). well, that exact scenario played out last november in the district's woodridge neighborhood. here's a note that was posted to the brookland listserv:

Hello, neighbors -

I just had a frustrating experience with 911. I'm on Monroe Street, next to the narrow Hoover Road that connects Monroe to Rhode Island. I witnessed a man punching a woman as they argued their way down Hoover, and immediately called 911, only to have the dispatcher tell me that Hoover Road did not exist. Well, there's a street sign and stretch of pavement that tells me it does, in fact, exist. She was extremely professional and as helpful as she could be, explaining that she couldn't dispatch to a location that isn't on their system. We managed to get directions worked out, and an officer dispatched, but by the time I got off the phone with the operator, the couple had moved out of my line of sight, I guess on to Rhode Island Avenue. No word on if the police ever made it to them, although I'm going to hope for the best.

This particular instance, as disturbing as it was, did shed light on the fact that this Hoover Road is invisible to emergency services. Does anybody have any idea of how to get it on their map? We get all sorts of activity on it, ranging from public intoxication to possible drug deals to prostitution activity. Don't even get me started on drive-through trash dumping. It would be nice to actually have it show up when the need to call 911 arises. Any ideas? ANC folks?

Kyle (on Monroe)
here's the road that kyle's talking about (from google maps' street view):

View Larger Map

View Larger Map

hoover road is a short 2 blocks long, with rhode island avenue at its south and monroe street at its north end. it's basically an alley that has a name. unfortunately, that "alley" doesn't appear to have made it into the database that dispatchers use to send police, fire, and medical personnel to the scene of an emergency.

there was never any follow-up on the listserv to kyle's post. does 911 now have hoover road in their database? i don't know, but i'd like to find out, and i'd like to hope that they're doing a thorough review of their data to make sure it's flawless. in potential life-or-death situations, we can ask for nothing less.


Andrew W said...

That's crazy. I remember hearing similar stuff about 9 1/2 Street. I forwarded this post to my buddy who does GIS for the city, but I don't know if 911 uses the same system - that would probably make too much sense.

David said...

I sent a link to this blog post to a mapping guy at the Office of United Communications (that office in incharge of 911 dispatching).

Solid blog post.

Richard Layman said...

I happened to get a brief tour of part of the Call Center and there is a special part where they have "assistants" of some sort who look into special requests, issues. In fact, when I was there, a guy was trying to find a road like this.

I find it hard to believe that Hoover Road isn't in the database.

Matthew Gilmore (H-DC) would be a person to ask. He used to deal with that GIS database.

Unknown said...

Hoover Road is in DC's GIS data, but no addresses are assigned to that street.