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New York City Completes Major 911 System Overhaul

Transformation integrated integrates three departments into a single system, increasing the 911 call volume the city can handle.

New York City officials announced last week the completion of a major 911 system overhaul — the first major communications integration within the “cellphone era,” according to city officials.

For the first time in New York City’s history, officials said, the 911 emergency call takers from the NYC police and fire departments and the Emergency Medical Dispatch services are now all located on the same floor of the Public Safety Answering Center in Brooklyn and are operating on the same technology.

The system is capable of handling 50,000 calls per hour — more than nine times the peak hourly call volume that took place on 9/11 and more than 40 times than the average daily call volume. New York City receives more than 11 million 911 calls each year.

With the new system, call takers can now see on-screen maps of a caller’s location. The upgraded system also has critical redundancy to NYC’s emergency communications infrastructure.

“We now have all of the city’s emergency response agencies in one place and on the same system, with state-of-the-art technology that can handle the large number of calls we see during big emergencies,” NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.

The system upgrade, called the Emergency Communications Transformation Program, started in 2004. Officials said it will help improve and streamline data sharing among public safety agencies. Additional upgrades were also made to NYC’s emergency telephone and radio networks to help with the overall improvement of the system.