Apr 26, 2024 - News

Renovated 911 dispatch center seeks better response times

call center with computer monitors

San Francisco's 911 call center in 2017. Photo: Michael Macor/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

San Francisco's emergency management department recently unveiled its revamped 911 dispatch center as it works to improve emergency response times.

Why it matters: Dispatcher response times trended downward over the past few years, as the department hasn't reached its monthly goal of responding to 95% of calls within 15 seconds since June 2020, according to the city's Department of Emergency Management (DEM).

By the numbers: The city's 911 dispatch center receives an average of 3,200 calls every day, according to the release.

  • In February, the most recent month in which data is available, 911 dispatchers responded to just 73% of calls within 15 seconds.
  • February marked the second-worst response rate since 2018. The worst was in October 2023, when dispatchers had a 72% response rate.

State of play: City officials say the renovated 911 dispatch center, which features more workspaces, will improve response times, per a press release.

  • The $9 million renovation brings the number of workstations from 50 to 55, and has room to accommodate additional hires.

What they're saying: Mayor London Breed called the renovation "a critical step forward" in the city's public safety efforts, she said in a press release.

  • Mary Ellen Carroll, the executive director of DEM, said the new space increases "our capacity to serve our community in emergencies."

Between the lines: The city's 911 computer system crashed for several hours yesterday, forcing dispatchers to record call details with pen and paper, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

  • The breakdown occurred as the city is working to replace the dispatch system — a $44 million project that will require a complete overhaul of the system's hardware, software and networking technology, according to the Chronicle.

What to watch: Meanwhile, adequate staffing remains an issue for the department.

  • There are currently 124 dispatchers but the city wants to increase that to 165, the San Francisco Examiner reports.
  • DEM is actively recruiting and said the number of applicants has more than doubled since 2022.
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