How to read the tag on a BC Hydro Pole

Every BC Hydro pole in British Columbia has a metal (or plastic) identification tag. Located at or near the base of the pole, these tags are a great radio resource -- they provide what appears to be very accurate longitude and latitude data. The example shown above is from the pole at my driveway. The important bit of data is the number series highlighted in the red box.  Here's how to read the data...

The first four numbers are longitude -- in this case 123 degrees, 35 minutes West (the 1 is dropped) and the next four are latitude 48 degrees, 41 minutes North. The remaining four numbers 2742, refer to a province-wide location map file on which the pole is plotted. The lower line of numbers further pinpoints the pole's geographical position for BC Hydro.

So how accurate is the data you ask? Thanks to Earl, VE7IN and his GPS unit, I can tell you the pole tag at my QTH is very accurate. Using his GPS, Earl calculated my coordinates as 123 degrees, 35 minutes West by 48 degrees, 41 minutes North -- an exact match to the tag.. To test the accuracy at another location, Earl has checked the pole at his QTH and once again the pole tag data is accurate when compared to the GPS readings. 

This handy resource provides a method to verify your coordinates -- regardless of where you are in the province.

My thanks to Stan, VE7SAG for describing how to read the tag.

Last modified February 08, 2004 by Paul B. Peters, Show contact information
Copyright 2000 -2002 Paul B. Peters, VE7AVV. All rights reserved.