City's 911 Computer System Temporarily Breaks Down

By Jill Colvin and Wil Cruz  on June 6, 2012 4:55pm

The FDNY's CAD system went down on June 6, 2012.
The FDNY's CAD system went down on June 6, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Theodore Parisienne

NEW YORK — An EMS computerized dispatch system designed to take 911 calls went down for an about an hour Wednesday morning, officials said.

The Computer Aided Dispatch system temporarily broke down from 11:10 a.m. to 12:10 p.m., FDNY and City Hall officials said. The so-called CAD system allows dispatchers to electronically relay information to EMS crews.

While the system was out, emergency teams were dispatched manually, an FDNY spokesman said. Some 350 emergency calls were made during that time, but none fell through the cracks and response times were not affected, officials said.

"It was up and running shortly after it went down," said Frank Dwyer, the FDNY spokesman. "No calls were holding."

Officials said the CAD went down during routine maintenance of one of its servers.

"Preliminary indications are this was caused by routine maintenance done on the system today," said Marc LaVorgna, a City Hall spokesman. "Backup systems and procedures immediately went into effect, and 911 calls for EMS assistance were taken and responded to without noticeable delay to the 911 caller or impacts to reponse times."

The system, installed in the 1980s, is scheduled to be replaced as part of the multi-billion dollar overhaul of the city's 911 system system, which City Comptroller John Liu recently slammed as grossly mismanaged and over budget.

Liu said contractor Hewlett-Packard was not qualified to complete the project and overcharged taxpayers by as much as $163 million — a claim the Bloomberg administration refutes.

A seperate report by an independent contractor found the new call system was riddled with systematic problems such as operators asking redundant questions and mapping mistakes that send responders to the wrong addresses, threatening to increase emergency response times.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg later said he hadn't read the report.

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