Relief for the staggering volume of citizen phone calls is available for U.S. jails of all sizes from Telerus. Citizen phone calls inundate local jails, devouring resources and exacerbating budget-driven understaffing woes. Answering repetitive questions, staff members frequently sound like broken records while struggling to keep up and maintain job accuracy with other critical tasks such as booking and release. Meanwhile, citizens dealing with horrific situations of arrested loved ones are commonly frustrated by busy signals, extended holds, and no answers. AIS, the nation’s only hosted voice automation service for jails, is now available on a stand-alone basis. This innovative service automates approximately 80 percent of incoming phone calls without jail staffs lifting a finger, resulting in dramatic improvement to citizen service and much-needed budget relief.
With many jails averaging more than 1/2 call per inmate per day, volumes accumulate rapidly and few facilities have staffing depths to consistently answer calls on a timely basis. Not only are staff members tasked to handle the substantial volumes, but the calls are largely repetitive and seldom require the critical thinking and subjective determinations that make them feel valued. With AIS, routine questions about inmate-specific information such as charges, bonds, court dates, projected release dates, and visitation, as well as information about facility policies, are answered in an offsite hosted environment or “in the Cloud.” Staff members are free to focus on other tasks, and with the increasingly popular “Software-as-a-Service” monthly fee structure, jails enjoy immediate returns without break-even periods.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR), the technology behind AIS, has long been used by large corporations and state and federal agencies, to cost effectively address large volumes of requests for similar information. Until recently, the systems were generally too complex and expensive for practical application at the local jail level. Fortunately, advances in offsite hosted technologies or “Cloud” computing have simplified deployments and dramatically reduced the cost to put IVR well within reach of a variety of local government agencies, including jails of all sizes.
AIS achieves outstanding automation rates of more than 80 percent through user friendly interface design that allows callers to simply speak the name of an inmate or type of information desired in English or Spanish. The turn-up process is straightforward and more like traditional phone service than complex software projects. Since AIS is available for low monthly fees and without long-term commitments, many facilities are able to bypass cumbersome RFP processes and start offloading their routine calls within a few weeks.
While this marks the introduction of AIS as a stand-alone, widely available service, it is already a vital service for numerous facilities that acquired it as part of larger inmate telephone system procurements.