Today, the mayor’s office gave out hard copies of the city’s controversial 9-1-1 report to reporters that asked for it.
The Voice stopped by City Hall late this afternoon to grab a copy of the 133-page consultant’s report that examined the city’s emergency response system. It has been a topic of much debate recently, with elected officials increasingly pressuring the mayor to release the report (which the city commissioned). Bloomberg has repeatedly refused, saying he would only release it when there was a final version.
The story first blew up when the New York Post reported in the beginning of April that the mayor was apparently waging an “all-out battle” to suppress the allegedly scathing report that said the city’s emergency-dispatch system has deep flaws. Since then, a Manhattan Supreme Court Justice has ordered Bloomberg to hand over the report, arguing that City Hall can’t keep it from taxpayers who paid for it.
The mayor’s office didn’t send out any alert through its regular channels that it would be releasing the report today, and when the Voice asked for a digital version, we were told that the only way to get it was to come to City Hall for a hard copy (we originally got wind of it from reports this afternoon by the Associated Press and Capital New York).
The report, called the “9-1-1 Call Processing Review,” or 911CPR, is written by a company called Winbourne Consulting, LLC, based in Virginia, and was originally commissioned by Bloomberg after the city struggled with its response to the 2010 blizzard.
As the AP noted, the report appears to be an edited version, since it is only 133 pages, versus the originally 216-page document that the Post had reported on.
The report finds that the city’s 9-1-1 system has problems with delays and errors, sometimes wasting valuable time in its responses, and additionally catalogues concerns over how NYPD and the Fire Department collaborate and the overall structure of the system.
“Many of the issues identified point to the need for integrated processes and systems to ensure NYPD and FDNY can respond in a faster, more effective and coordinated manner to life critical emergency incidents,” the report says in its executive summary, calling for a more unified management structure, since the current system has different agencies’ 9-1-1 operations operating differently. The report also points out that there is no combined NYPD, FDNY, and the Office of Citywide Emergency Communications (OCEC) work group with a sole focus on coordinating, improving, or enhancing 9-1-1 operations.
In its evaluation of the city’s Public Safety Answering Center, which is tasked with dispatching police, fire, and emergency medical 9-1-1 incidents as fast and effectively as possible, the report says that the NYPD and the FDNY call takers consume valuable time asking duplicative questions and taking identical actions for the same 9-1-1 caller. There are also inconsistent question and answer procedures employed with 9-1-1 callers, the report says.
One part of the report’s summary says that in instances of high call volume, like an outage or mass casualties, the NYPD and FDNY have developed their 9-1-1 surge response plans independently of each other, “although a critical incident typically requires a coordinated multi-agency response.” Another area where different agencies have not coordinated is in their mapping solutions. The report says that there is no “NYC public safety GIS/mapping strategic plan even though NYPD, FDNY, and OEM [Office of Emergency Management] need the same type of GIS/mapping information. This is especially true when dealing with multi-agency, complex and significant…incidents.”
Another section on training and quality assurance says that management and in-service training programs are inconsistent and should be enhanced. The report recommends that the NYPD and FDNY apply a more rigorous “Quality Assurance/Improvement” process at multiple levels, i.e. first line supervisor, section administration, and executive management.
There’s a lot more in the report, and, getting this late on a Friday afternoon, we really only had a chance to skim the executive summary.
When the mayor has been questioned about this report in the past, he has repeatedly said that response times are generally at an all-time low.
Already some folks, as expected, have released some critical responses to the report.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, an expected mayoral candidate, said that the delays and errors are unacceptable, noting that he stood with Uniformed Firefighters Assn. Chief Stephen J. Cassidy calling for the immediate release of the report back in April.
City Comptroller John Liu, another mayoral hopeful, said the city wasted money with this report given that his office has also released an audit on the city’s 9-1-1 system. His statement said: “It’s sadly ironic that the City hired an expensive outside consultant to review the work of other expensive outside consultants. This report is not only a waste of more taxpayer dollars, but seems to be duplicative of what my auditors have already found. My audit team is currently finalizing our second report on this project, which will delve further into issues regarding the financial management of this important initiative. We will review the details of what is being released today but it won’t change the fact that City Hall has consistently shirked its responsibility to properly manage IT projects during the past decade, which has resulted in fraud, cost overruns and massive completion delays.”
We imagine there will be more headlines on this in the coming days.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 4, 2012