New York – New York City officials have asked a federal court for permission to abandon an old-fashioned alarm system that predates the days when people dialed 911 from their cell phones to summon help.
The city now spends $9 million per year maintaining a network of 15,000 emergency street boxes. They allow people to alert emergency dispatchers by pushing a button or pulling a lever.
Use of the boxes has dropped by 90 percent in the past 15 years, and false alarms outnumber true emergencies 9 to 1.
But a court blocked the city from getting rid of the boxes in 1996 because of the potential impact on deaf residents.
Advocates say that for people who are hearing-impaired, the alarm boxes are still valuable.
The city’s request isn’t expected to be decided for several months.