NYC's 911 system overloaded during Hurricane Sandy

The "Superstorm" that wallopped the Northeast US this week serves as another reminder of how easily overwhelmed New York City’s 911 phone system is. So much so that Mayor Mike Bloomberg again and again urged citizens not to use it to report anything but the most immediate life-threatening emergencies. "The city said it was receiving 10,000 calls per half hour—10 times the normal level—as the storm pounded the city late Monday," reports The Wall Street Journal.


  1. It seems like with planning and good technology, this kind of load could be shared across a larger network than just the city affected. A 10x spike from baseline is all it took to overload? That’s not good. 

    Meanwhile, all of California is operating at normal call volume. And this is true of even really big regional events. 

    Even if they can’t do more than transcribe calls into a database, at least it’s better than a no answer. 

    1. If the provider is allowed to outsource then that sort of load balancing should be easy to do. The emergency call center here in south eastern Australia seems to do several states (they sometimes confuse my location with locations in South Australia) so while you lose some local knowledge you gain the ability to smooth out the peaks.

      My guess is that a lot of it will be in Mumbai in a decade anyway.

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