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New 911 System Crashes Twice in Two Days, Police Say

By  Trevor Kapp and Victoria Bekiempis | May 30, 2013 5:11pm 

 Police Comissioner Ray Kelly said the new 911 system crashed twice during its first full two days of operation.
Police Comissioner Ray Kelly said the new 911 system crashed twice during its first full two days of operation.
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DNAinfo/Amanda Mikelberg

NEW YORK CITY — The city's new 911 system crashed twice in its first two days of operations, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Thursday.

Though the $2.1 billion system, which was engineered to handle up to 50,000 calls per hour, had been tested "for nearly six months," the system went down for 16 minutes Wednesday — the first day the new system was "fully in operation," Kelly told reporters at an unrelated press event.

During the outage, operators were able to receive calls from people reporting emergencies, but they weren't able to transfer the calls to dispatchers, Kelly said.

"Something went amiss yesterday," he said. 

Tech crews charged with investigating and repairing Wednesday's glitch thought the issue had been addressed, but another outage took place Thursday, Kelly said. He did not say how long the second outage was.

“They were working through the night," Kelly said. "They thought they had it fixed at 3 a.m. this morning. And then obviously this happened again.

"This has to be thoroughly examined," he added.

During the first outage, which took place about 4:20 p.m. Wednesday according to the Daily News, operators scrambled to write down information on slips of paper that were then handed to runners, the paper reported.

The runners then took the slips to police and paramedic radio rooms, where dispatchers organized slips according to neighborhood or precinct, so that they could send units to calls, the paper reported.

John McCarthy, a city hall spokesman, told the News the problems had nothing to do with the new computer system.

“A single EMS server — part of a decades-old system — was temporarily down,” he told the paper.

“During this time, no incoming calls were lost, and calls were taken and responded to — without delay — because backup systems and procedures immediately went into effect.”

These two failures were not the first time the 911 system had encountered setbacks, including extensive delays, cost overruns and technical difficulties in its development.