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Long Street Names

2007-12-26 19:21:51.320217+00 by ebradway 8 comments

From CartoTalk:

I think land developers should be charged $100,000US per letter in their street names. Maybe they will think twice about naming their stupid little courts with extra long names.

This is from someone who has to figure out how to label street names on large-scale maps. An interesting aside from a firefighter in the conversation:

For firefighters turning out for an alarm at 0300 hrs, trying to recall if Shandalay Lane runs off of Shandalay Court or Shandalay Terrace (which may happen to be on the other side of the city) is a headache.

[ related topics: Interactive Drama Maps and Mapping Real Estate ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-12-26 20:51:36.895774+00 by: Nancy

It seems to me the very fact that the firefighters are having to rely on their memories at 3 am, or at anytime, speaks to a faulty system. Are they really expected to know the location of every street in town off the top of their heads?

#Comment Re: made: 2007-12-26 21:20:45.190349+00 by: markd

My wife used to run rescue in a small town in northern Virginia (I can still pick out their tones when I listen to a fire/rescue scanner when we go back to the area), and they had to know where everything is (this was in the days before ubiquitous GPS). Part of their training was driving around town in the Ambulance. It taught them where the corners of the vehicle were (in daylight, rather than figuring it out at 3am), and also what streets were where, and any special gotchas about them.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-12-26 23:15:56.059635+00 by: ebradway

Not only do they have to know the location of every street, but they also have to know the location of every fire hydrant. The firetruck drivers know ahead of time exactly the best spot to park the truck so they can tap the closest hydrant and reach your house with the hoses.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-12-27 15:59:19.085234+00 by: petronius

Some years ago in Chicago the Fire Department got lost near downtown, trying to figure out where "5 Illinois Center" was. The lady in the burning office didn't know the legal address was "150 East Wacker Drive" when she called 911. She died. Of course, nowadays 911 operators have better readouts of where a call is originating, at least for landlines. I wonder how well they do with cell calls?

We also have another problem in Chicago, honorary street names. These signs are placed on lampposts below the real streetnames, and are in a different color. Even so, to visitors it is a problem. I live near Devon Avenue, the big Indo-Pak shopping strip, which in various segments is also known as Mohammed Ali Jinnah Road for the Pakis, Ghandi Marg for the Hindus, King Sargon Street for the Assyrians (don't ask), and Golda Mier Avenue for the Hasidim. I myself live at the apparent two street intersection of Thorndale, Sheridan Road, and Rabbi Tietlebaum. When a piece of Michgan avenue in front of the Playboy HQ was named for Hugh Hefner, it was protested by feminists for a week, and the sign was stolen 4 times before the city gave up. The silliest example is a tiny lane behind a noted bistro named Chef Louis Szathmerthy Alley. The name is longer than the street itself.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-12-27 18:50:30.295128+00 by: dexev

It could be worse -- we could move to Japanese-style street names. That is, don't have them at all.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-12-27 19:37:46.964306+00 by: Dan Lyke

I wonder about land lines. Since I've had a different billing address from physical address I've learned that many information services don't have that under control, and wouldn't be at all surprised to find that the 911 dispatchers would end up sending someone to the post office if an otherwise unlocated call were made from this house.

I think cell phone addresses are getting better, but occasionally I've thought about trying to phone in a location if I were on a road trip: how often do I know what exit I'm near or what mile marker I'm at? Heck, sometimes I'm not even sure about which road I'm on, especially if it's one of those places I've been often enough to forget the directions to but still remember the visuals on the places to turn.

I had a similar problem on a hike one time, we found a guy passed out in the bushes, and I used a cell phone to try to talk the Sheriff's department dispatcher into giving instructions to the ambulance folks, and it was eventually an open space fire control crew who heard the radio chatter and figured out where we were. I don't carry a GPS device, but I should, because that was a prime example of needing a "we're at X, you figure out the way you know to get there" information source.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-12-27 20:47:37.708506+00 by: petronius

According to This FAQ from Verizon, most cell phones can give some location info thru the 911 call. However, generally this is just approximate data, since it is based on tower triangulation. Apparently you would need a fully GPS-active phone to get more precise data.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-12-27 20:50:01.078231+00 by: ebradway

My cell phone - the freebie phone with service contract started about two years ago - has a location reporting feature. It was disabled initially. Cell-tower triangulation, in many instances, is more accurate, lower-latency, and uses less power than GPS. The reason cell phones all now have some sort of location awareness is for 911 service. Whether or not the 911 operator has access to the information or can do anything with it is another matter. I'm pretty certain that part of the E-911 process was to assign addresses to ALL homes and key these addresses off of phone numbers rather than using billing addresses.

Personally, I think it would be great to be able to press a button on my cell phone to share my location with the person I'm talking to. The case of calling AAA for a tow specifically comes to mind.