FDNY: New York City’s 911 system down for 2 hours

Associated Press

New York — A part of the city’s computerized 911 emergency dispatch system went down for nearly two hours Monday, forcing dispatchers to work manually to handle calls, but fire officials say no life-threatening emergencies came in during the period.

The system was down from about 2:15 p.m. to 4:05 p.m. on Monday. About 600 calls were handled manually by operators and dispatchers, a process in place and used when necessary for more than two decades, fire officials said. Emergency crews were sent out by radio, and callers were able to report emergencies without an issue.

Response times were not believed to have been affected nor any calls missed.

The outage is being investigated, but the system has had problems in the past as the city continues its $2 billion modernization of the 911 system, including using new technology and building a new backup call center. The old system has been in place for decades. On Sept. 11, 2001, operators were unaware that fire chiefs were evacuating the doomed twin towers because the city had no way of relaying that information. The federal Sept. 11 Commission concluded the flaws denied people potentially life-saving information.

The new system is streamlined and uses state-of-the art technology, but pieces of the system have failed from time to time, like last summer when a series of glitches prompted a city council hearing on the topic.