10 Years Later, FDNY and NYPD in Radio Sync

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Since the September 11 attacks, New York City has committed hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade its 911 call system and its emergency radio communications to try and correct the inadequacies documented by the 9/11 Commission and other expert reviews.

A City Council panel wanted to know how far the Bloomberg administration had actually gotten on what was estimated to be a $2 billion dollar, multi-year effort, which has run into time delays and major cost overruns.

Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway told the City Council Tuesday that the city now has state of the art radio communications between the police and fire departments, which permits them to better coordinate their emergency response. He added the city had "become a model of voice interoperability, but we are leading the nation through the development of our state of the art wireless data network, built exclusively for the use of city agencies."

But Council Technology Committee chair Elizabeth Crowley said she's still concerned about gaps in radio communications in high rises and subways, settings that proved problematic on September 11.

"What this hearing  has indicated is that there are still unresolved problems, that the Fire Department and the administration has come along way  in the past ten years but there is still a ways to go," Crowley said in an interview after the hearing.
Public Safety Council Committee chair Peter Vallone was pleased by the amount of progress on the integration of the City's emergency services into a unified incident command. But he did raise concerns about the continued delay of the City's 911 center for the public's emergency calls, as well as a planned back-up system for 911 slated for the Bronx.

On September 11, people stranded on floors of the World Trade Center were not able to get useful and timely information from 911 operators on their best course of action. Under the Bloomberg administration's re-design FDNY and NYPD dispatching operations will be housed on the same floor which is expected to improve their collective situational awareness.

"One of the things they wanted to do was put all of the agencies on one floor of the command center so that there would be better coordination within 911 as to what was going on because everybody would be located in the same place," Vallone said. "That has yet to happen because of problems installing the technology."

City officials told Vallone that problems with the development of key software needed for the City's upgrade of its antiquated 911 call system had finally been resolved over the summer.

Holloway said that Verizon had delivered on its promise to work out glitches with the soft ware so the city can fully integrate police, fire and EMS dispatching.
"It has taken a long time; however, we were not going to switch over  to a new 911 system until we knew the new one was going to work," Holloway said

The Bloomberg administration now projects the new system will be fully operational in early November, after they train 911 employees and supervisors how to use it. As for the Bronx back-up system for 911, Holloway said a foundation had been poured and construction work continued, but he did not have a completion date.


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Comments [4]

Joe Mc

it really is not too smart to put all of the dispatching operations of the fdny and nypd in the same building on the same floor for obvious reasons. this move reminds me of Giuliani putting his emergency command center in the number one terrorist target, the world trade center.

Sep. 28 2011 08:06 PM
miahmdparash from Bangladesh


It's a nice article it will help my research.


Sep. 28 2011 11:56 AM
Bob Hennelly

Fair enough. We have reported extensively on FDNY rank and file complaints about the Bloomberg Administration's approach to things like unified call taking as well as investigated the role of the revolving door of former City managers who went on to lobby on behalf of under performing private contractors. We are in the process of investigating the Administration's representations at the hearing.
Anyone with information about shortcomings with the City's 911 system or emergency radio communications please call me at 646-829-4378.
Bob Hennelly

Sep. 28 2011 10:39 AM
John Q

If you want to know how the system really works, ask a rank and file union member that uses it, not the politicians (managers with no civil service protection) that wear rose tinted glasses. They have to suck up to the boss so of course you wont get any real information out of them.

Sep. 28 2011 12:55 AM

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