Can 911 call analysis be used to analyze and investigate crimes, and to make the call process friendlier?
Verint Systems thinks so.
Its Impact 360 Speech Analytics Essentials for Audiolog software is more than a recording solution; it’s a way for detectives to parse leads, for crime analysts to add context to their data, and for supervisors to train and monitor calltakers.
Research backs up the importance of 911 calls to criminal investigations. Last year, Tracy Harpster of the Moraine (Ohio) Police Department, together with Susan Adams and John Jarvis of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, published a study: “Analyzing 911 Calls for Indicators of Guilt or Innocence.” (Homicide Studies, Vol. 13, No. 1, 69-93, 2009) It analyzed 911 calls from 100 adjudicated homicide cases. The researchers found that certain keywords, combined with voice inflections, information given, and other factors could predict when callers were guilty or innocent of murder.
Verint’s program may not be able to parse so many variables to that extent, but it can help. A technology that has helped private companies with their call centers’ efficiency and customer service, voice analytics is just starting to become part of public safety. Its capabilities are embodied in the modular Impact 360 for Public Safety.
Beyond call recording
Because citizens’ first contact with police is often via phone, 911 calltaking is just as important as officer-civilian interactions. This is why 911 call centers have implemented call recording for quite awhile. However, as Kristyn Emenecker, director of solutions marketing at Verint Systems points out, “The recordings sit there until a prosecutor asks for them.” Once that happens, she adds, it can take hours to get to a single call on a tape, or to listen to multiple incident-related calls.
That’s just for investigative work. Administrative issues, such as caller frustration with the length of time on hold, require a complaint before supervisors can take action. A more proactive approach, regularly listening to call recordings in search of patterns, would be too labor-intensive and inefficient.
These are the problems Impact 360 Speech Analytics Essentials promises to solve. It enables searches by date and time, call type, computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system ID number, and calltaker ID. “Then it’s possible to search on and isolate groups of calls using keywords,” says Emenecker. This cuts what could take days down to less than a few hours.
Thus the system’s intelligence value is potentially farther-reaching than a single court case or complaint. Impact 360 for Public Safety can be used for crime analysis and investigation, emergency monitoring, quality assurance, and calltaker training.
Porch fires in Pennsylvania
Even though the Chester County (Pa.) Department of Emergency Services tested Impact 360 Speech Analytics Essentials for customer service reasons, at the time the software demo was running, an arson spree was leaving residential porches burned across the city of Coatesville.
“We ran a keyword search to see whether there were calls we had not forwarded to detectives,” says Bobby Kagel, the department’s assistant director for quality. “We did find a few because in those cases, the fire department did not respond -- instead, a police officer took a report. The detectives were able to follow up with those additional callers, who provided leads that resulted in arrests.”
Crime analysts, too, can benefit. The ability to search on street locations and keywords like “porch fire” can help supplement analysts’ crime mapping efforts. Kagel adds that the system can auto-notify with regard to specific incident types, so that trends can be identified more quickly.