Friendlier, more efficient PSAP

Voice analytic technology helps 911 PSAPs examine calls for crime analysis and investigations

   Impact 360 rounds out its quality assurance methods via Scorecards -- an internal tool which allows administrators and shifts to compare key performance indicators -- and Citizen Surveys, an automated way to follow up with callers, via reverse 911 or e-mail, in the weeks following a 911 call. “It’s a proactive way to achieve two-way communication with the public,” says Emenecker, adding that public safety customers have expressed interest primarily because of high-profile botched 911 calls.

   Future developments

   Impact 360 records radio traffic in addition to phone calls, but because the audio quality is inferior, radio conversation is not included in analysis. “Speech recognition technology has come a long way,” says Emenecker. “And it’s pretty good now, but not 100-percent accurate.” As in a court transcription, some unintelligible or inaudible words and phrases are skipped, even in phone calls. Thus the software is more valuable for intelligence uses than for use in court. However, says Emenecker, ongoing testing means if recording accuracy can be improved, then radio may well be included. (Kagel says this capability would be especially valuable to training dispatchers.)

   This could also apply to “Text-a-Tip” programs. In the commercial world, text mining is routine business, with photo mining not far away. For public safety, because Impact 360’s screen capture capability records multimedia, picture messages cannot be mined like keywords — but will come up as part of the context for a calltaker’s conversations. Emenecker says research and development continues to follow that particular market.

   Kagel says the main reason the Department of Emergency Services opted to test the Impact 360 system is “our responsibility to make the system better, more user-friendly and efficient for both taxpayers and emergency responders.” Whether in terms of making the call process better for citizens, or the investigative process easier for detectives, voice analytics stands to be an important next trend in PSAP service.

   Christa Miller is a Greenville, SC-based writer specializing in law enforcement, public safety, and digital forensics issues. She can be reached via her blog,

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