Mayor recommends changes to city’s 911 system
by Jess Berry
Aug 13, 2014 | 3198 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When elected officials revealed months ago that the city’s Emergency Communications Transformation Program (ECTP) was in fact slowing down emergency services response time, in some cases costing the lives of New Yorkers, Mayor Bill de Blasio called for a comprehensive 60-day review of the program.

Last week, the de Blasio administration released a report with findings from the review and recommendations for the city’s 911 system.

The city had been using the Unified Call Taker (UCT) system, which directs emergency calls to an NYPD call taker, who then takes down all relevant information before transferring the call to an FDNY dispatcher.

The system led to issues with how quickly calls were responded to, inaccurate information and repeat questions being asked between the call taker and the emergency responder.

This added up to an inefficient emergency response system, and in early June, politicians called for an overhaul of UCT in favor of connecting residents directly to emergency responders.

At that point, the mayor ordered for an ECTP review. Two of the biggest problems discovered and recommended for improvement were the over-reliance on external consultants and the lack of communication and input from stakeholder agencies.

“We have identified the problems that have long plagued the ECTP, and we’re committed to taking the necessary corrective action to ensure the program is brought back on track, within our means and ahead of schedule,” de Blasio said.

“This includes eliminating costs and consultants that are not delivering the progress we need, breaking down barriers of communications among city agencies and developing a new approach that allows various phases of the project to move forward when they are ready,” said de Blasio.

Among the recommendations for the structure of ECTP are the re-establishment of the city as the program lead, a job that is currently held by the contracted Systems Integrator; the inclusion of stakeholder agencies like the NYPD, FDNY, Department of Information Technology (DoITT) and the Office of Citywide Emergency Communications (OCEC) in the management and execution of the program; and the cutting of consultant costs by replacing them with city employees.

The review of ECTP was led by DoITT Commissioner Anne Roest, who said the city will regain control of the program and fix the necessary components “within the established budget and sooner than anticipated.”

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the revisions to the system, which will fast-track the FDNY’s Computer Aided Dispatch system, are “vitally important.”

“Hitting the refresh button on plans to rebuild the city’s new 911 system was not only a wise decision, but has now provided a clearly defined path forward with collaboration from all stakeholder agencies,” Nigro said. “It is critically important that we get this right.”

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