A decade-long, $2 billion-plus project to modernize New York City’s emergency 911 system has been plagued by poor management, shoddy oversight and a lack of planning, according to a report released Wednesday by the city’s Department of Investigation.
The report, which stems from a review Mayor Bill de Blasio had asked for, makes recommendations for how the project should move forward, including having one person leading it and making executive decisions. It also said there should be an integrity monitor to identify fraud.
The city began the effort to modernize its 911 system in 2004. The need became tragically clear during the Sept. 11 attacks when different city agencies’ systems were unable to communicate with each other.
A new system with easier technology, an upgraded call center and a new backup call center were all part of the plan, with the backup center running by December 2015. But the de Blasio administration halted work and called for a review after being told in May that the date had been pushed back to 2018 and at least an additional $100 million would be needed.
The system also had a major glitch in May 2013, when operators had to use pen and paper to relay emergencies to dispatchers because of a system stall at least three different times over two days.
According to the review, the program has suffered from disputes between the involved agencies, like the Police Department and the Fire Department being allowed to develop their own dispatch systems.
The recommendations would create a framework for the project’s major components to be completed in 2016, with the full project done in 2017.