George McKinney: Address changes mishandled  – Op-Ed Commentaries – The Charleston Gazette – West Virginia News and Sports –


George McKinney: Address changes mishandled  – Op-Ed Commentaries – The Charleston Gazette – West Virginia News and Sports –.

Here is one of the worst “developed country address mishaps” we have ever encountered.  The emergency services in a town in West Virginia took it upon itself to “change the addresses of homes and businesses” in the area covered by the emergency services.

It would appear that no other agencies were consulted, not even the Postal Service, which simply received notice of the change.  The author sets out the enormous consequences of this change: bad credit reports, panicky citizens being denied credit, the USPS not knowing what to do with mail, misdelivered mail, costs in money, time, and aggravation in changing one’s address with credit cards, Department of Motor Vehicles, banks, IRS, utilities, phone company, etc., etc.   The creation of opportunities for identity theft in this scenario was all too real.

Too much of modern life, including critically one’s personal and legal identity, is too dependent on the residential or business address for any one user of the address to decide to change it, let alone to do it for a large community.   No doubt the intention was noble – get to emergency locations more quickly.  But the solution chosen had horrific and totally foreseeable consequences.

Isn’t it time for there to be an “owner of the address system” identified who can be the “go to authority” when a change as important as this is proposed?   Or, perhaps in areas such as this, another locality-identification is necessary. Perhaps the Addy?  See www.addy.co, or another geolocator such as GoCode or NacGeo.  Or a simple “emergency services” number could be prominently displayed in front of each affected residence and a database of these be computerized and referred to by emergency services on receipt of a call. Home telephones could be programmed to recite it automatically when a 911 call is made from a phone within the locality.  There are a myriad of solutions available beyond tinkering with the already over-burdened postal address.

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  1. Merry Law says:

    I don’t think we need more and different addressing: we need (1) to associate a GPS location with the current addresses in official databases and (2) to create a unified database for all the various official purposes (mail delivery, taxation, emergency services, driver licensing, etc.) Some countries including some developing countries, already do the first. For the second, Denmark is notable. It saves money and time and eliminates this kind of potentially tragic comedy of errors.

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