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Analytics - Good Business For Public Safety

Author: Bruce E. Thorburn, 911 Consultant

Copyright: 9-1-1 Magazine, Feature Content

Date: 2011-10-06
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The advent of Call Taker/Telecommunicator Certification mandates in many states, and in the future nationwide, has increased the value of voice and data analytics for training, coaching, evaluation, planning, and response.

Wikipedia defines ANALYTICS as “the application of computer technology, operational research, and statistics to solve problems in business and industry.”

Voice and data analytics have been a positive influence in private business for years. This technology has proven to be a productive tool for improving customer service; recognizing trends improving products, productivity, customer needs and desires; and improving call handling by customer services representatives. Only recently has this technology been recognized as having potential (demonstrably proven in Chester County, Pennsylvania) in the Public Safety environment. The advent of Call Taker/Telecommunicator Certification mandates in many states, and in the future nationwide, has increased the value of voice and data analytics for training, coaching, evaluation, planning, and response.


When developed properly, this technology as an operational function of the recording equipment, can enhance the ability of an agency/PSAP to provide a basis for better evaluation, coaching, and training of personnel; assimilation, compilation, and reporting on calls by any number of pre-determined values established by the individual agency/PSAP. The creation of the program that will save both time and manpower through efficiencies of effort by properly using the technology; and, finally, lead to real cost effectiveness because of the time and manpower efficiencies, better-trained personnel that leads to less turnover, and generally faster and more expedient handling of calls, and more comprehensive compilation and reporting of call statistics. All of the costs saving are on the back end of the installation and training for the systems; but are not insignificant.  These savings are represented in a decrease in turnovers, Time and Manpower (T&M) savings for data collection and reporting, Supervisors and Management T&M savings due a single point of location for retrieval and presentation of both the data and voice materials, ease in responding to requests for documentation should litigation occur, and savings in training for Telecommunicators as they can study selected items during their non-bust times for refresher training or coaching.

Voice Analytics allows an agency/PSAP the ability to establish a template for automatically categorizing (as with a good MIS product) the entire calling makeup; but with less administrative oversight, calls based on type of call, word association, pre-determined phrases, associated words, relative associated words and phrases, emotions, and other factors pre and post-determined by the individual agency/PSAP. When used as developed, this technology can reduce call handling length; assimilate calls by time/date, incident type, or Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) association; and be a useful tool for coaching, training and re-training and evaluation of personnel. The template can be structured to coincide with established Human Services Evaluations; act as an identifier of the best and worst examples of call handling; and provide proof positive through statistical analysis for shift staffing of  Telecommunicators and responders, budgeting, and upper Management reporting.

Data Analytics encompasses many of the same aspects as voice; but realize that Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) will have to sustain not only Small Messaging Systems (SMS) and Multi-Media Systems (MMS) and an array of data repositories information that may well come from sources inside and outside the traditional wire line and wireless environments. The acceptance of CAD, MIS, Mapping, and dispatch screen data for assimilation, compilation, and reporting will ensure that Agencies/PSAPs respond to all or most of the data impacts that citizens and visitors expect from today’s E9-1-1.

This technology has an especially unique use by Emergency Management Agencies for documentation for costs recovery from FEMA. The statistical analysis garnered from historical data received, processed, and maintained can allow agencies/PSAPs the ability plan for future events based on data regarding specifics areas of concern, whether they be location - based, incident–based, or manpower and resources–based.  The data compiled can be used for many aspects of the recovery mission for alls of the Emergency Services Functions (ESFs) as well as act as a post-event training document for the successes and failures for response to the emergency event(s).

The end result is that analytics can be used today, not as a replacement for, but an addition to existing MIS packages for data statistical reporting and for budgetary needs justifications. This technology should be taken seriously as a tool of immense value to Public Safety Agencies/PSAPs.

Bruce Thorburn has been in the 9-1-1 Community since 1982, including five years with Orange County, Florida as their Database Manager, and 23 years with Lake County, Florida performing as E9-1-1/Addressing, Telecommunications, and Cable Television Regulatory Authority and Director. Bruce has also been the Legislative Liaison for Florida NENA since 1995 and been on the State Plan Technical Committee for Florida from its inception.

Photos by Randall D. Larson/9-1-1 Magazine Photo Archives



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