So far, New York’s $88 million computer-aided dispatch system by Alabama-based Intergraph Corp. (ICAD) has crashed four times in three days. But the writing was on the wall long before the city signed up with ICAD, as San Jose, Calif., and Nassau County can attest.
The city's new 911 computer dispatch system has crashed four times since it launched three days ago.
Another computer crash struck the city’s 911 call center Friday afternoon — the fourth such outage since the NYPD launched a new $88 million computer-aided dispatch system three days ago.
The latest glitch severed computer links between EMS dispatchers and 911 operators at the call center in downtown Brooklyn for nearly half an hour.
Operators resorted once again to jotting down information from callers to 911 on slips of paper. They then used runners to rush those slips to EMS dispatchers in other parts of the building.
FDNY spokesman Frank Gribbon insisted this outage had nothing to do with the new system, but was caused by human error: Someone mistakenly powered down a server and caused all dispatch computers to crash.
The latest glitch in the 911 call system severed computer links between EMS dispatchers and 911 operators for nearly 30 minutes.
“So why does the crash happen just when the new system has been installed?” said EMS dispatchers union president Israel Miranda.
With these outages mounting — another eight-minute one occurred Thursday night in the police dispatch room — Mayor Bloomberg tried to soothe growing public safety concerns during his radio show Friday morning.
“It works,” Bloomberg said of the new system; it just has some “bugs. You wish you didn’t have bugs but that’s the real world.”
Before saying more, Bloomberg should ask one of his aides for a copy of the city’s own background check on Intergraph Corp., the Alabama-based company that produced this new system, known as ICAD.
Mayor Bloomberg said the new system works and that is has some bugs that need to be worked out. 'You wish you didn’t have bugs but that’s the real world.'
He would find that the Department of Investigations noted clear “caution” warnings about Intergraph before the company was granted the dispatch contract in 2008. Those cautions, summarized in the company’s vendor filing, included “multiple investigations by various government agencies” of contracts that Intergraph had won.
Take, for example, the giant mess in San Jose, Calif.
In June 2004, Intergraph rolled out a new computer dispatch system for the San Jose police and fire departments. Such a public furor ensued that a civil grand jury was empaneled to investigate.
That grand jury produced a scathing report the following year, one that virtually mirrors the escalating outages that have occurred in our own city this week.
The city paid $88 million for the new dispatch system from Alabama-based Intergraph Corp. (ICAD). Similar problems with crashes happened in other regions that worked with ICAD, including San Jose, Calif., and Nassau County.
“A total breakdown of the system occurred on several occasions during the first few days,” the report found. “Police officers and (telephone operators) found that dispatch workstation computers and (mobile) terminals would ‘crash,’ causing them to have to operate manually (paper and pencil).”
Many of the problems, the report said, “were so mission critical that they were thought by some to endanger the safety of the public and police officers.”
The report depicts escalating tensions and recriminations among police, 911 operators and their superiors, with some errors in the system persisting for months.
The grand jury also blasted San Jose officials for failing to first run a pilot program of the new Intergraph system and for failing to keep the old dispatch system running as a backup.
And San Jose was not Intergraph’s only headache. After the company installed a new dispatch system in Nassau County in 2007, complaints surged there as well of similar problems.
An Intergraph spokeswoman declined to comment and referred all questions to the NYPD.