TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: N11 Codes

Re: N11 Codes
15 Feb 2006 08:57:59 -0800

Danny Burstein wrote:

> Err, I strongly doubt "the parents had an excellent lawsuit". Despite
> the common belief, there is _NO_ "duty to act" by the police or other
> government services (outside of some very specific situations). There are
> court cases up the kazoo where the various plaintifs find their cases
> thrown out.

This particular situation received wide publicity and was made the
city look terrible. The boy was killed from being beaten up. If the
police had arrived promptly they would've saved him. There was no
reason for the police not to have arrived promptly. They received
numerous 911 calls but the system failed to dispatch officers
accordingly. It was a disgrace. An excellent example of how
automation and technology is not always better than manual systems
they replaced.

As to the legal liability, again there was widespread publicity and
agreement that in this particular case the city would've been liable
because of the circumstances. Indeed, the city police dept is often
sued and loses for doing too much or doing too little.

>> There are still some problems with 911 receiving operators and the
>> computer systems they use.

> Talk to your mayor, council, whatever. It's _their_ decision to go for
> the cheap.

Who said they went for the "cheap"? These systems were expensive and

Forgive me for sounding smug, but some years ago I had a chance
informal encounter with a local police chief and we talked about the
emerging 911 computer systems. I noted some possible risks -- general
issues present in any computerized system. As time went on those
issues have come up in modern 911 systems.

Nobody wants to admit that "garbage in garbage out" can happen to
their system. But it does. Often.

Nobody wants to admit their program can crash. But it will. Often.

To me, it is inexcusable that modern digital police radios -- selected
because they are supposedly "better", regularly fail while on the job.
Are the manufacturers rushing these things to market without extensive
testing the radios in worst case situations? Do the engineers even
understand the propagation issues of digital signals? Geez, way, way
back in Bell Labs they outfitted a Model T with radio receivers and
measuring equipment (which had to be developed all new) and drove
around the entire NYC metro area measuring signal reception. The map
of signal strength was very interesting and showed a heck of a wide
variation. This was back c. 1915. I guess that was the last time
anyone bothered to do that.

When the Bay Area Rapid Transit system was built, the engineers and
Feds were enamoured with high tech. The Feds wanted some work for the
aerospace industry which was in decline because of the end of Vietnam.
But building an jet fighter is totally different than building a
train. They don't have gritty dirt to foul up circuits and animals
that chew on wires 30,000 feet in the air. Trains do. So BART had
delay after delay before it could open since the circuits just didn't
work. Trains have been running elsewhere with electronic control
circuits for 50 years, but BART purposely rejected that technology as
"old fashioned". BART's trains ran off the track into the parking
lot, I heard because crystals malfunctions.

In the meantime, another brand new system, PATCO (Lindenwold NJ) was
also bright and modern but used -- by design (and lack of money) --
standard off the shelf parts. It bought used WE pay phones for
customer help phones and a used SxS switch for communications. But
its trains ran at 75 mph and reliably none the less, apparently the 50
year old 100 Hz electronic signal circuits they chose had some value
to it.

Please forgive my rant, but when the techo-geeks and the capitalists
behind them offer some new "wonderful" high tech stuff, please make
sure it is a genuine improvement for me, not just a tradeoff of new
inconveniences and risks.

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