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.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios San Francisco.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More San Francisco stories

No stories could be found

San Franciscopostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios San Francisco.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more