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NYC's New 911 System May be Reason for Death of Four-Year-Old Girl

A three to four minute gap between a 911 call and its appearance on a computer screen is being blamed for the death of a four-year-old girl in New York. 

City officials said Friday that human error at the call center is the reason for the delay.

"It wasn't picked up by the person that should have been reading that screen," NYC Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano said. 

The girl, Ariel Russo, was hit by a driver who was fleeing from police.

"They just failed to read the screen," Cassano said. "We'll deal with that."

Though Cassano said it was human error, the incident comes just after the city experienced technical breakdowns at the new 911 system. The system cost $2 billion, but was not working properly.

It went down on four different occasions last week. The first outage lasted 11 minutes on May 29, and operators were unable to automatically route information to police, fire or EMS dispatchers. A day later, it broke down twice for an hour in the middle of the day. Later that night it went out for two minutes. 

Many have criticized the new system, and City Comptroller John Liu said NYC's safety is "being held hostage to troubled technology."

Mayor Mike Bloomberg, however, said the new system is fine. 

"It has some bugs in it all new systems have," he said. "You wish you didn't have bugs but that is not the real world."

A report was submitted two years ago to Bloomberg's office by city consultants that foreshadowed the problems the city would face if it installed the new dispatch system.

"Development efforts continue with little to no cross-agency coordination or common vision, resulting in excessive development costs, schedule delays and interface complexity," the report said. "Operational improvements to processes haven't been established."

Sources: NY Daily News, ABC


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