Saturday, April 13, 2019
City wireless network went haywire and was inoperable for a week
City Hall’ s tech czar ignored a federal warning about a looming, Y2K-like software bug last year — allowing a crash of the city’s official wireless network that has been down since the weekend, sources told The Post.
As a result, transit officials can’t remotely control the Big Apple’s 12,000-plus traffic lights, and many of the city’s traffic cameras and NYPD license-plate readers are down, sources said.
“This is a big screw-up, even for the de Blasio administration,” said a source familiar with the matter.
The New York City Wireless Network, known as “NYCWiN,” crashed on Saturday, affecting the operations of city agencies that rely on it to transmit high-speed voice, video and data communications.
Workers have been scrambling around the clock to fix the entirely preventable problem, but the network remained down Wednesday — five days into the outage.
NYCWiN is overseen by the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, whose commissioner, Samir Saini, was appointed by Mayor de Blasio in January 2018.
DoITT pays the Northrop Grumman Corp. about $40 million a year to run the network, which cost $500 million to build and went into service citywide in 2009.
It was unclear when it would be back up and running. But what is reasonably certain is that the technology snafu could have been prevented.
Exactly one year ago Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning that GPS-enabled devices could be affected by a time counter “rollover event” set to occur this past Saturday.
DHS noted that testing showed some devices could not “correctly handle” the rollover and urged “federal, state, local, and private sector organizations” to take preventive measures.
Sources said the biggest impact has been on the Department of Transportation, which lost its digital connection to the traffic lights at intersections across the city — leaving officials unable to know if a signal stops working unless someone reports it.
In addition, the clocks that time the lights are subject to going out of sync, which could wreck the carefully timed patterns that keep traffic flowing, sources said.
“I don’t know how the city could become more congested, but that would be a concern,” one law enforcement source said.
This doesn't bode well for the coming congestion pricing tolling system the city is going to implement next year.