Houston Emergency Center
About the HEC
A Division of the Mayor's Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security
Prior to September 2003, Houston had three emergency communications centers for 9-1-1: Neutral Public Safety Answering Point, Police Department Emergency Communications Division, and Fire Department Emergency Communications Operations. Each agency had separate answering centers, computer networks, and technical support. The development of the state-of-the-art Houston Emergency Center (HEC) consolidates all of these efforts.
Along with HEC providing 24/7 round-the-clock emergency 9-1-1 services, the facility is a $50 million investment towards a secured facility equipped with state of the art emergency communications technology. These advancements are utilized by the center's 9-1-1 call takers and emergency dispatchers from the Houston Police and Fire Departments. System upgrades include police dispatch, fire dispatch, fire records, fire alerting, and geographic information at a cost of approximately $12 million. Antiquated facilities have been replaced with an innovative and redundant complex that consolidates emergency communications.
The upgrades have improved delivery of Public Safety services to citizens who live, work, and visit Houston by providing a facility in which calls for emergency services within Houston can be received and dispatched to emergency first responders. Other capabilities that allow HEC to have reliable communication is its link to two-way radio communication systems that support the City of Houston Police, Fire/EMS, and Emergency Management agencies so that dispatchers can communicate with personnel in the field.
Non-emergency phone number for the Houston Police (713.884.3131) is also monitored on a 24/7 basis. The Police non-emergency phone number is connected to an Interactive Voice Recording (IVR) System. This IVR System provides citizens direct access to information by using an automated recorded menu, allowing citizens to obtain information electronically or the option of speaking with someone directly. When a citizen calls the Police non-emergency number, they will reach a recording that directs them to different types of information such as HPD Substation numbers, HPD Division numbers, and/or inquire the update(s) to Police Reports. It is encouraged to call the non-emergency number to familiarize all options available.
Beyond its daily operations, the facility's Emergency Operations Center, during times of incident activation, allows interface and constant communications with local, state, and federal agencies. The center's most significant benefit is the common protocol for interagency transaction exchange between 9-1-1, Police, Fire, EMS, and Emergency Management.
Approximately 9,000 emergency calls per day are processed at HEC. The volume of emergency calls can easily double during times of inclement weather or special City social/sporting events (e.g. Hurricanes Ike (September 2008) and Katrina/Rita (September/October 2005), National Basketball Association All Star Game (February 2006), Major League Baseball 2005 World Series (October 2005), Super Bowl XXXVIII (January 2004), Major League Baseball All-Star Game (July 2004), NCAA Men’s Division 1 Basketball Final Four Tournament (April 2011)).
The Houston Emergency Center is one of the most impressive and technology advanced emergency communications facility in the country.