The city's questionably effective but very, very pricey 911 system overhaul is being investigated by the DOI at the behest of First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris.
The mayor's office announced today that the project—known as the Emergency Communications Technology Project, or ECTP—will be halted and subjected to a thorough review, in which the Department of Investigation will parse the system's "history, scope and budget" in an attempt to explain why it arrived several years late and $1 billion over budget, in addition to the many bugs it has experienced in the several months since it rolled out last May. A preliminary review alone has already revealed various "technical design, systems integration and project management risks beyond the previously publicly documented challenges," the administration said in a statement.
“Our number one priority is protecting the safety of all New Yorkers,” de Blasio said. “That means not only fixing the problems that have for too long plagued the ECTP, but also addressing new issues that demand immediate corrective action. The critical steps we are taking today will ensure that the new emergency communications system is operationally, technologically and financially prepared to protect future generations here in New York City.”
In addition to a 60 day suspension of all expenditures and system changes, the city announced that no contracts may be awarded or purchase orders issued, and that the project will be fully assessed by the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, which will release a set of recommendations in July. The DOI will also conduct an independent review of "what transpired in recent years that has led to the current situation."
The $2 billion system, meant to streamline emergency response from various agencies, has been rife with problems since its launch last year. The system has been blamed for exacerbating already life-threatening emergencies by persistent lag times—in one instance, there is evidence to suggest that 4-year-old Ariel Russo might have survived after being hit by a car last year had emergency workers reached her in a more timely manner.
The system's glitches are only the most recent in a laundry list of problems. An investigation by former Comptroller John Liu found that Hewlett-Packard had collected millions in overbilling, and the Daily News reported today that 22 telecom sites that were supposed to be established are currently incapable of supporting the new equipment—potentially causing delays of an additional two years.
"Today marks a significant step in fixing our City’s flawed 911 call taking system," said Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who chairs the Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services and spearheaded the investigation of Ariel Russo's death. “In an attempt by the Bloomberg administration to oversimplify a complicated multi-departmental service, the system became too heavily centralized within the NYPD and created more problems than it solved. A nearly nine and a half minute average emergency medical response time is unacceptable and irresponsible."