September 15, 2011: 2011, Issue 37
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Today’s news:

PSAC II enhances 911 safety

Soon rising alongside where the Hutchinson River Parkway and Pelham Parkway meet will be a 9ll call center, which has a deep connection to the terrorist attacks on September 11th.

The call center, named PSAC II or Public Safety Answering Center II, will be a redundant back-up 911 Call Center that is part of a plan to bring the city’s 40-year-old system into the 21st Century, and keep the city’s emergency communications system functional in the event of another day like 9/11.

Designed by the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, Fire Department, Police Department, and Department of Design and Construction, the new call center should be able to handle the volume of all 911 calls should PSAC I, located in Brooklyn’s MetroTech Center, somehow fail.

The building of the $300 million call center, which is currently underway, required balancing the needs of the surrounding community, which is concerned about the height called for in the original plans, and the need to protect the city and the nation in the event of another terrorist attack, said Councilman Jimmy Vacca.

“I think that we saw that there were gaps in our emergency preparedness during the 9/11 attacks,” Vacca said. “We started to ask ourselves if we are as secure as we can be, and PSAC II has been identified in this process because if the other call center went down, where would we be in terms of safety?”

The community fought to have the size of the call center scaled back from between 30% and 35%, and the final plans have pleased many members of the communities of Pelham Gardens, Pelham Bay, Morris Park and Westchester Square, Vacca said.

Vacca pointed out that with an expected increase of law enforcement personnel coming to and from the call center, many are concerned about traffic flow on Waters Place, and he said that the city needs to continue its efforts and study of the situation. But he also said security of the nation and the city must come first.

“We know that if the terrorists ever decide to attack the United States again it is going to be the center part of New York City because it is the financial and governmental center of the United States,” Vacca said. “I know that this call center may be something of an inconvenience, but I care about the safety of our nation, and I know a lot of other people in my district feel the same way. We need to have a communications system in New York City that is second to no other city in the world.”

According to the project description report released by the city, having two separate call centers in different parts of the city, both of which can handle the entire 33,000 call-per-day volume for the city and dispatch NYPD, FDNY and EMS first responders is a necessary precaution to keep the city safe.

The development is “expected to improve voice and data communications infrastructures in the City, and therefore public safety, by heightening emergency response ability and disaster recovery using two load-balanced faculties: PSAC I and PSAC II,” the report reads.

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