911 Call Volume and Response

When San Franciscans call 911, they expect someone to answer quickly and help them in an emergency. The response rate of 911 calls represents the percent of calls answered within 15 seconds. The San Francisco Department of Emergency Management uses a standard from the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) that 90 percent of all emergency calls should be answered within 15 seconds.

Department of Emergency Management

How the Department of Emergency Management is Performing

Total call volume, comprised of emergency and non-emergency calls, began to increase in September 2011 and continued to grow at a rapid rate through 2017. After roughly five years of call volume growth, service levels decreased below the goal of 90 percent of calls answered within 15 seconds.

Through San Francisco’s Civic Bridge program, a team from Google worked collaboratively with the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) to investigate factors behind, and make recommendations to address, the City’s 911 call volume increase. The resulting paper, released October 2015, indicates that an increase in multiple 911 calls for the same incident, accidental cellphone dials to 911, and an increase in police-reported incidents are factors in the 911 call volume increase, as well as the comparable increase in non-emergency calls. Recommendations to address these issues include improvements to computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system functionality such as automatically capturing a “source” field for all CAD incidents, automating the callback process for dispatchers, and tracking accidental dials with a new CAD code.

From 2007 through January 2019, the standard of Ring Time was used as the performance measure for call answering times: 90% of all 9-1-1 calls arriving at the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) shall be answered within 10 seconds.  Beginning in February 2019, the new standard of Answer Time was implemented: 90% of all 9-1-1 calls arriving at PSAP shall be answered within 15 seconds. DEM continues to report on both of these standards, as historical data is limited for the new Answer Time standard.

How Performance is Measured

The call-taking time interval is measured from the time a 911 call arrives at the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) until a dispatcher answers the call. Average daily 911 call volume is calculated by summing the number of 911 calls received in a month and dividing by the number of days in that month.

The number displayed on the scorecard page represents a fiscal year average of the response chart above.

Additional Information


Please visit DataSF for the scorecard data.