Citywide IT Preparedness for Critical Events: Accomplishments and Challenges
Gino Menchini, Chief Information Officer, City of New York
9/11 and Voice/Data Communications
One of the most important lessons of the September 11, 2001 attacks was the need for an improved means of communicating with key personnel. In addition to ensuring radio interoperability among its first responders, New York City is currently facilitating construction of a citywide mobile wireless network for public safety, which will utilize City buildings, light poles, and traffic lights for antennas, transmitters, and receivers, while also utilizing the Cityís existing fiber infrastructure. When completed, this citywide network will provide a wireless backbone for applications running on mobile and fixed devices.
Role of 3-1-1 in Citywide Events
On August 14, 2003 New York City was affected by a blackout that covered much of the Northeast United States; from December 20-22, 2005, the City was affected by a strike by its subway and bus operators, who transport more than 7 million people daily. In each instance, our 311 Citizen Service Center, established in March 2003, used technology to handle a significant influx of calls (more than 175,000 calls over the course of the power outage, and over one-half million during the strikeóincluding a record 241,000 in the first day alone). Throughout these events callers to 3-1-1 were routed into a messaging system to provide basic information about the event, which was updated continuously. Furthermore, at all information focal points, 3-1-1 staff maintained updated content in Siebel (the Cityís CRM application) to ensure it reflected the most current information. As a result, 3-1-1 helped to alleviate the burden 911 would have been faced with if callers did not have anywhere else to call, ensured consistent information was shared with the public by coordinating 3-1-1ís messages and content with other channels, and created a clear channel of communication between the public, the City, and agencies responsible for services relating to the events.