City's new 911 system failed three times

May 31, 2013 2:35:16 PM PDT
There are a few kinks in the system. That's how the New York City mayor's office describes the troubles for the new, and very expensive, 911 system.

A $2-Billion dispatch system was reduced to paper and pen. It has happened several times since the debut this week of the new system.

The city blames normal start-up kinks that need ironed out, the question? Can that be done before someone loses their life.

So far, there have been no glitches on the third day of operation for the city's new dispatch system. Instead, problems surfaced with the decades-old dispatch for EMS.

"The system went down 20 minutes, closer to 30 minutes, this afternoon," said Israel Miranda, EMS Union President.

It seems old or new, the largest 911 system in the country is plagued with problems, despite $2 billion in upgrades.

The new police dispatch went online Wednesday and has had three crashes that forced dispatchers to write down call information on paper.

The Mayor is downplaying the systems repeated failures.

"It has some bugs in it. All new systems have. We've got a backup system and you wish you didn't have bugs but that's not the real world," Mayor Bloomberg said.

"The volume of calls may be what's bringing it down repeatedly," said Lance Ulanoff, Editor in Chief at Mashable.

Tech expert Lance Ulanoff says it's possible that a spike in calls due to the hot weather has overloaded the new system.

"It's not so unusual to have that kind of growing pains in so complex a system, but my feeling is they have the technology and people in place, done the testing, they will figure this out," Ulanoff said.

Several reports have warned the city that a lack of independent oversight would lead to cost overruns and technical problems.

City Comptroller, and now candidate for mayor, John Liu conducted one of those audits.

"In virtually every component of this upgrade there's been problems, from the initial call center, to software implementation to now the actual dispatch, the problem is where does this end," said John Liu, Comptroller and Mayoral Candidate.

While the city insists that the new system will eventually save money and cut down response times, the recent problems have shaken the confidence of its operators.

"You can see the frustration building up and the disappointment with the system and they really don't have much faith in the changes being made," Miranda said.

The city says there have been no noticeable delays in 911 calls. But an official with the EMS union says at one point Friday afternoon, there was a backlog of 100 calls.


If you have a tip about this or any other issue you'd like investigated, please give our tipline a call at 877-TIP-NEWS. You may also e-mail us at

Follow Jim Hoffer on Twitter at and on Facebook at

Follow Sarah Wallace on Twitter at and on Facebook at