Tuesday, May 21, 2013

911 response times

A quicker response from the city could have stopped this man and his partner in the act of filling up my dumpster with their old tires:


As it happened, when the cops finally arrived, they arrived nonchalantly, evidently with no idea of the nature of the emergency.  Somewhere between the 911 dispatcher and the cops, precious time and information was lost.

The problem of 911 response times has received considerable attention previously.   USA Today reported investigations that seemed to suggest that the first step in correcting the problem is for cities to use "honest" measures of response times when evaluating their own performance.  Some cities response times focus on how long certain components of the emergency system require, rather than looking at the sum total time that a 911-caller must wait for the intended response.  Such "dishonest" cities tend to perform worse on emergency response.

Without thinking too hard about it, the 911-cop interface should be reorganized as follows.
  1. A caller dials 911.
  2. The 911 dispatcher asks first for the exact location of the problem, and starts by entering this location on a computer.
  3. While the dispatcher continues to gather more information from the caller, a computer automatically determines which currently available cop is located most closely to the crime scene based on live GPS signals from all cop cars.
  4. A computerized system automatically dials to the selected cop, and suddenly that cop is connected to the 911 conversation in three-way call while his cruizer computer screen pops up a map with the crime location.
  5. The cop begins speeding toward the crime, while listening in on the call and helping to ask clarifying questions.
In a city, with cops spread out at most a mile apart, I bet that response time could be reduced to an average of 90 seconds and a maximum of 3 minutes.

7 Comments:

Anonymous dr perfection said...

911 is for emergencies. Why was this an emergency?

3:58 PM  
Blogger My Freakwentness said...

@Perfection: That's an interesting theory. I asked the cops in person if there is a better number I could call if it happened again, and they said no, just call 911.

4:39 PM  
Anonymous goodbadi said...

How absolutely frustrating.

3:15 AM  
Anonymous dr perfection said...

I still don't understand what is so awful about some rogue person filling up your dumpster. Doesn't the city empty your dumpster when it is full? Please enlighten me. I must be missing something since you put in such an effort to make a post about it.

911 being for emergencies isn't a theory. Its a fact. There is a nonemergency police number that is appropriate for this kind of thing. I certainly wouldn't want to be waiting for the police to arrive for a real emergency because my neighbor was worried about his dumpster.

5:18 PM  
Blogger My Freakwentness said...

@perfection: Indeed, you are missing several things.

1. The city has nothing to do with the dumpster, and certainly will not empty it. Each emptying of a dumpster costs about $300, all private transactions.

2. Tires are not like other garbage. People have to pay extra to get rid of them, and the dumpster business officially does not even allow tires in the dumpster.

3. This was an emergency. According to http://www.911.gov/whencall.html,
"A crime, especially if in progress" is called an emergency. Of course, some things are more urgent than others, and one would hope that a 911 dispatcher can help to sort that out in case there are multiple emergencies occurring at once.

7:10 PM  
Anonymous dr perfection said...

yes indeed, I have been enlightened. How do you pay for your dumpster? Is it a yearly fee?

So what happens to the tires? Do you have to pay to get rid of them?

3:32 AM  
Blogger KTdid said...

I feel your pain! I have a dumpster, too. Fortunately, it is situated in a well-lit spot surrounded by tenants who could be peering from their windows (or could, alas, be filling the dumpster with bulky junk and cast-off furniture).
Thank goodness, no one's tried to fill it with tires, but I'd better be wary. I would call 911!
Question: Is that YOUR dumpster?
How did you get this photo?
Q.

7:27 AM  

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