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Computers helping map W. Jordan

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WEST JORDAN — City officials here are tapping into computer technology in a variety of ways — from mapping out cemeteries to accurately pinpointing water lines buried far below the ground.

At some stage, the technology will allow emergency-response crews to map the precise location of an incident and route the quickest way to get there, all in advance of leaving the station.

West Jordan purchased a global positioning satellite system last year and is using it to gather data for its existing mapping system called geographic information.

The satellites collect information on the location of everything from fire hydrants to water meters and that in turn is fed into the other system, which produces a map that shows spatial relationships.

Matt Jarman, West Jordan's GIS coordinator, said the intent is to locate such existing utilities as water valves, storm drains, sewer drains and manholes and then map them out with GIS.

That knowledge will make the city's repair work proceed much more efficiently.

"On a weekly basis you find there is a fairly frequent need to shut off a water valve. At some intersections, there may be four valves located within 5 or 6 feet of each other. There's the question of what valve goes to which line and who is it going to affect. With this system it can be located quickly."

Knowing the precise locations of water lines and other utilities also decreases the likelihood road crews will cause damage when streets have to be torn up, Jarman said.

"We'll spend less time barricading the streets and it will help the traffic flow and also increase the safety of workers."

Jarman has also made some maps of school boundaries within the city and has been working with the school districts.

Having accurate boundaries delineated on those maps can assist the districts in planning for expansion as populations shift and demographics change.

For Jarman, city mapping is a project that will continue as long as new construction is happening in West Jordan.

"This is a work in progress for the next 10 years, a continuing project that will go on as the city fills up with development."

E-MAIL: amyjoi@desnews.com