Next Generation 911 seeks to “enable the general public to make a 911 ‘call’ (any real-time communication — voice, text, or video) from any wired, wireless, or IP-based device, and allow the emergency services community to take advantage of advanced call delivery and other functions through new internetworking technologies based on open standards.”
While North American PSAPs are focusing on putting in place the systems needed to deliver these goals, there are many other issues that need to be dealt with to ensure the public receives the maximum benefit from the changes.
The impact on dispatchers will be significant, with an already stressful and difficult job becoming much more complicated as they are expected to handle text, video and chat sessions alongside voice calls.
Many commercial contact centers have already been through this process with the introduction and expansion of multi-channel and omnichannel digital customer experience technology.
As a supplier of workflow software for call handling to both 911 centers and commercial contact centers, we have seen where each could help the other.
Systemise for performance
In commercial contact centers, if a caller gets connected to a skilled and experienced agent who solves their problem quickly, that’s their good luck; and their bad luck if the opposite occurs and they find themselves speaking to an inexperienced or poorly trained agent.
While the repercussions of this aren’t terribly serious in a contact center, it could be a matter of life or death in a PSAP. The level of skill or experience of a dispatcher, or their ability to use a piece of technology, should never be the difference between saving a life and not.
As the systems and technologies used by emergency dispatchers get more complex, they must be given tools which simplify the job. Triage workflow does that by providing a single user interface to various systems, including the CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch), and by providing intelligent guidance during the call.
The triage workflow can prompt the dispatcher to ask questions and allow them to take actions based on the responses — including assigning priority levels, asking follow-up questions, or dispatching appropriate response services and messages via the CAD.
Having got used to this way of working with commercial contact centers, it was a surprise to see one of the largest and busiest 911 command centers in the US still using paper-based scripts to triage incoming calls.
A screen-based system that automatically moves to the next step depending on what the dispatcher inputs saves an enormous amount of time in calls, and improves accuracy, consistency and speed of response. It’s also much easier to update the system and manage version control.
Intelligent triage with complete control
The most common complaint among PSAPs we have spoken to is that they cannot write medical workflows or introduce changes to enhance and optimize their responses to incoming emergency calls. A triage workflow system allows EMS teams and physicians to ‘own’ the responsibility for how they process and set priorities for all medical emergency calls.
Whatever workflow software is used should be seamlessly integrated with Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) systems. It should also capture the detail of every interaction to enable managers and specialists to analyze performance and adjust workflows to achieve continuous improvement. Such powerful data insights can deliver ongoing and measurable gains in dispatch times, resource accuracy, caller experience and operational efficiency.
Defining and measuring success is just as important in 9–1–1 centers
In commercial contact centers, KPIs will be defined and measured to assess the company’s progress towards its commercial goals. In emergency centers, meeting the public’s needs is obviously the primary concern.
Up until now, the world’s most agile and powerful contact center technology has been used to help people pay bills, get quotes, and shop but it has not been used to power emergency call systems. When deploying these tool-sets in the world’s largest contact center outsourcers, we see productivity gains of up to 20% — imagine how that could transform 911 centers?