Phil Matier: San Francisco Worried About Computer Crash In An Emergency

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The head of San Francisco’s Division of Emergency Services is asking for a full report on an incident last New Year’s Eve during which the department’s computer crashed as a North Beach apartment building burned, leaving 48 people homeless.

KCBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier Comments:

KCBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier said that an emergency services rep told Mayor Ed Lee’s Disaster Council recently that when the computer crashed they couldn’t switch to the backup system because they didn’t have the password. As it turned out, the system was down for two or three hours.

When asked what they did instead, the representative said “That’s what we have pencils and paper for.”

Division Chief Rob Dudgeon calls that explanation “a bit simplistic,” but points out that when the next big quake hits, the Internet may not be available, and that they’ll have to rely on radios and cellphones.

”A lot of the high tech things we’ve set up for our emergency disaster response is going to come crashing down in a big incident,” said Matier.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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