DMV Down? Meaning of?

jslayton01 used Ask the Experts™
On my police scanner, a police officer was trying to run a plate to the dispatcher. When the dispatcher tried to run the plate, she said "DMV is down" so that means she could not get an address of the person who owns the vehicle.

Now, does that mean that the DMV servers (can be a Mainframe, AS/400, i5os, Windows..who knows) are down and once these servers are down, I would assume that they generate something like a Z/VM CP message stating the server has malfunctioned or suffered a "hicupp" in the network...And those messages (if there generated), are then managed by a Computer Operater that works for the City as a Systems Operator...Now, tyhe computer operator then forwards that error message stating that the DMV or one of the DMV servers is down to a Programmer....who then resolves the issue...

Normally, when I hear a dispatcher saying that the DMV is down is actually back up within minutes...I actually want to know what goes on behind the scenes when the DMV system is down.

What I said above, is that correct how they resolve the issue?
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Sounds like you are in California. I used to work for the Los Angeles Police Department. There are a number of different systems that have different information. The DMV system is actually a citywide system used not only by the DMV but by many other agencies, including some state govt. brances. I was not much of a computer guy then, but if I have to say then yes I think it is a mainframe. The server hardly used to be down because the impact is more than the whole city, around 30,000 active users. This is run on a system called NECS. But when and IF they say that the DMV is down, then I dont think you really know what is going on behind the scenes because the IT department of the CITY.. (ITD) keeps it all under wraps because the system has very sensitive information. The one NECS system carries all data related to any person , vehicles, addresses, criminal record and such. So if the END user at the police station notices that she cannot pull up a record, then it is most likely that some problem is there that nobody knows of, but there is this one generic error message. I hope that answers most of your question. To be more precise I think it will need to be answered by a city IT person.

It usually means they've taken the hamster out of the wheel for a pee and a lump of cheese. I guess if it doesnt' come right back up, the hamster escaped and they're trying to get it out from behind the sofa. Or maybe they're out of cheese.
Haha ccomley!
When the dispatcher said that DMV is done, it means that he/she was unable to connect to the DMV database.  There are many problems that could cause this... not just a server or mainframe being down.  For example, it could be the dispatcher's connection or It could be DMV's connection.  As for mainframes, a lot of gov't agencies have moved away from mainframe to server clusters.  But you are right, it could have been a mainframe down.  BharBhar is correct when he states that you could only find out from an IT person from within the DMV in your area.  Or you could ask the hamster... just kidding :)


Yes thats true, but to them that would sound a bit
Top Expert 2014

I could be a number of things.  Network connectivity problems between the police deparment's network and DMV's network.  The DMV system,or part of it, may actually be down for maintenance.  Some DMV data based that run on smaller boxes are too big for a single database server, so they have multiple data base servers, one may hold A-G, the other H-M, and so on.  It could be that the one that held the name they were looking up was down either because of a crash or due to maintenace.

In a lot of situations most people will just say "something is down", but it could just mean that they can't get to it.  I have heard many a time announcments that state "the Internet is down."   It is next to impossible for "the Internet" to be down.  What they mean is that something that connects them to the Internet is down.

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