Glitches in New York City’s new 911 system, including delays in responding to calls, have prompted questions from unions for emergency workers on whether New Yorkers were now less safe because of the mistakes, says the New York Times. It was a gross indictment of the city's $2 billion overhaul of the aging 911 computer network. The newspaper says the system has not shown wide-scale cracks in its operation. Response times are mostly unchanged since the Police Department's new technology was rolled out on May 29. During an average week, emergency responders from the Fire and Police Departments arrived at the scene just as fast this year as last year.
The debate lies in what constitutes an acceptable level of problems. Hewlett-Packard, which worked on integrating the back-end 911 systems, had the contract to upgrade the Police Department's computer-aided dispatch system, but was replaced in 2008. A 2012 comptroller's audit found inappropriate billing by the company. A new vendor, Intergraph of Huntsville, Ala., was awarded a $72.5 million contract. (The cost has since increased to $88 million.) After Intergraph introduced the new police system in May, half of the call-taker screens froze for about 16 minutes; the next day, 45 were frozen for 18 minutes. In each case, police officials opted to take the system off-line to fix the problem. Since then, they said, there have been no similar problems, though individual screens have occasionally frozen, requiring a 60-second reset.