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Vows to Get to Bottom of Crashes Afflicting Emergency Dispatch


Yesterday, New York City Comptroller John C. Liu commenced an audit in order to look into what may have caused the City's Emergency 911 system to crash repeatedly in recent days. The audit follows two years of the Comptroller's close scrutiny of and repeated warnings about problems with the project.

Comptroller Liu drew a parallel between the City's mismanaged implementation of the E911 system and the implementation of the troubled CityTime time-keeping system.

"The E911 system's problems comprise an even greater management debacle than the scandal surrounding CityTime," Comptroller Liu said. "Taxpayers were for bilked for CityTime, but the $500 million was recouped eventually. In the case of CityTime, system failure at worst meant delayed paychecks. In this case, system failure would have far more disastrous consequences. How can it be that $2 billion has bought an E911 system that must resort to pen and paper? What happens if an extended heat wave taxes the system?"

The audit will examine whether the Mayor's Office of Citywide Emergency Communications is successfully monitoring the integration and implementation of the Computer Aided Dispatch System into the Emergency Communications Transformation Program (ECTP).

Press reports have detailed a series of chaotic events at E911 as computers have failed in recent days, with personnel having to use "runners" to relay paper messages to dispatchers. Some reports have raised questions about whether computer problems contributed to the slow dispatch of an ambulance after a 4-year-old girl was struck by a vehicle in Manhattan on June 4. The girl died. Officials have blamed the delay on "human error."

Liu faulted Mayor Bloomberg for shrugging off the E911 crashes.

"The Mayor's response to the E911 problems, blaming the crashes on unspecified computer bugs, is cavalier to the extreme," Comptroller Liu said. "Lives are at stake. New Yorkers need an E911 system that works, and they need it now. My office will do its utmost to ensure that happens."


Audit letter to Mayor's Office of Citywide Emergency Communications:

Liu statement on E911 crash:

Audit: Mismanagement of 911 Upgrade Picked Taxpayers' Pockets:


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