Wednesday, November 13, 2019
911 will continue to be a joke for another two years
New York’s new 911 text messaging system will finally arrive next summer, two years late and millions over budget, city officials admitted Tuesday.
Eusebio Formoso, the interim commissioner of the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, testified to city council members that his agency is “moving ahead” with the project to phase texting into the city’s existing 1980s-era analog 911 system by June 2020.
Officials initially promised to have the system online by “early 2018.”
The program is part of a larger $28 million contract awarded to Motorola subsidiary Vesta Solutions in 2017, which has ballooned to $41 million as the delays built.
The improved technology will help domestic violence victims by allowing battered women and children to get help quietly, without tipping off their attackers.
It would also be welcomed by 208,000 city residents who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, as well as the speech-impaired, who can’t call 911.
The long-overdue option — part of the city’s larger “Next Generation 911” project — is already available in 2,000-plus municipalities and counties across the country.
“Since this interim system is being built to handle the highest 911 call volume in the US, getting the system right is a matter of life and death,” said Formoso.
He added that DoITT “would certainly like to be further along than where we are” but blamed the delays on the “complexity” of the project.
Councilman Robert Holden, who chairs the technology committee, wasn’t buying the excuses.
“Nine New York state counties — including neighboring Rockland and Dutchess counties — have all had text-to-911 since as early as 2013, so it’s kind of weird that New York City doesn’t have [911 texting], considering we have the largest population of people with disabilities,” he said.
Holden also said he’s “puzzled” that the city hasn’t even implemented a “Smart 911” system similar to the one now being used in Nassau County.