New York City’s 911 center yesterday switched to a new computer-aided-dispatch (CAD) system, replacing a legacy system that had been used for more than four decades, according to a key official with the New York Police Department (NYPD).

“It was a huge event for us, because we had been on the same home-grown CAD system for 40 years, so this was a huge cutover,” NYPD assistant chief Charles Dowd said yesterday morning during an interview with Urgent Communications. “We’ve gone from an over-40-year-old, mainframe-based, green-screen [CAD system]—what was originally a modified airline-reservation system that we’ve used for almost 43 years—to a modern, Web-based application.”

Dowd added that the transition to the new CAD system “has been successful, so far.” But the new system later encountered problems, suffering a 12-minute outage yesterday afternoon, according to media reports. However, the system has been working since the problem was addressed, a source told Urgent Communications.

Executed at 3:15 a.m. EDT yesterday, the switch to the new CAD system from Intergraph represented the culmination of a massive effort that included training almost 5,000 employees during the past six months, Dowd said.

Some key advantages to the new CAD system will be real-time, Web-based reporting, AVL display and the ability to support digital dispatch, Dowd said. The NYPD hopes to implement digital dispatch—voice dispatch also will be used for higher-priority assignments—during the “next year or so” to help relieve congestion on its LMR network, he said.

“[Digital dispatch] will dramatically reduce voice air time on the system,” Dowd said. “I would dare to say that it will reduce it at least 50%.”

Ultimately, the new CAD system also will allow New York City to interoperate with other 911 jurisdictions in the region and ease the migration to next-generation 911 architecture, Dowd said.

“It’s a much more user-friendly system, a more flexible system that gives us a lot of reporting tools that we didn’t have previously, and we can interoperate with other regional 911 centers, because we can share CAD information,” he said. “It just makes it so much easier to do things.”