For compliance purposes every Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) must have a mechanism for recording, archiving, and retrieving voice communications. The recorder should be able to read the ANI, ALI, CLID, trunk ID, call taker ID, incident number, and other data captured by the call server, radio system, or computer-aided dispatch systems. Today, we can classify recorders into three categories; basic loggers, advanced loggers, and performance monitoring and improvement systems.
Classes of PSAP Recording Devices
Basic loggers capture voice-only from analog and digital trunks, telephony devices, and conventional radio. They may be able to record VoIP calls but are unable to tag those calls to specific call takers. They cannot identify specific channels from the newer trunked radio systems. Basic loggers are usually designed as unitized fixed capacity devices that cannot be expanded. They do not record screen actions which makes it very difficult to create complete and accurate incident reports. Security may be limited to password-only which makes them readily accessible to anyone who knows the password.
Storage may be limited to the computer hard drive. Typically, there are no remote diagnostic or administration features so every problem requires a costly site visit. Basic loggers have a very limited indexing capability. This complicates the process of quickly locating specific recordings for court purposes. The user interface is via screens on a PC workstation or directly from keys and displays on the device itself. Basic loggers do not provide any capability to intelligently retrieve calls for quality monitoring purposes. The only options are to remotely listen in to a live call or sit side-by-side with a call taker, waiting for a coachable call to arrive. The evaluation process is completely manual. Because of their design architecture, basic loggers cannot be modified to accept data and video communications, as required by NG 9-1-1.
The more advanced logging devices host their software on industry standard servers. The systems can be expanded by purchasing additional software licenses. Advanced loggers record audio from telephony devices, conventional radio, trunked radio, and screen actions. There are multiple storage options such as NAS, SAN, and RAID. In addition to identifiers passed by the 9-1-1 trunks and call server there may be user-definable fields so calls can be indexed and retrieved by CAD entries, such as incident type and number. An incident replay application is available.
Calls can be sampled for quality monitoring purposes, based on available criteria and some vendors include an authoring tool for form development. The user interface is browser-based, permitting remote administration and deployment in remote sites. Advanced loggers do not provide coaching and learning tools or more sophisticated functions like workforce scheduling and speech analytics. While the design is more open than for basic loggers, often using off-the-shelf components, advanced loggers are not readily re-architected to accommodate NG 9-1-1 requirements. There is no provision, and often no product roadmap, to capture and index text messages, video, and VoIP calls from providers like Vonage and Skype.
Performance Monitoring and Management Systems
This class of PSAP recording products use the latest in thin-client Wed-based technologies to provide integrated solutions for not only capturing multi-media interactions but leveraging that information and integrated tools to help PSAPs find ways to better serve the public. In addition to advanced recording capability, solutions in this class include advanced applications such as quality monitoring, evaluation, coaching, learning, root cause analysis, and even citizen surveys. The systems consist of the core recording system plus a suite of modules that can be purchased separately or one-time as a fully-integrated solution. These systems are only sold by the top vendors, all of which have certified integrations with the most widely deployed call servers. In addition, the modules are all tightly integrated with the recorder and with each other. There is no need for costly and often inefficient custom integrations.
We describe this product class as “performance monitoring and management systems” because that is exactly what they do. The recorder captures voice and screen actions from all channels. Screen entries are recorded in the same sequence as the voice call so handling of the incident can be reconstructed precisely as it happened. Supervisors can review the entire sequence of events to identify possible data entry errors, shortcuts, or indication of lack of understanding on how to use the software.
Since the software is designed for quality monitoring, supervisors can retrieve calls based on multiple criteria – helping to assure focus on proper protocols and proficiency with a variety of emergency situations.
Once areas for improvement are identified available electronic learning modules can be shared with call takers. When paired with integrated workforce forecasting and scheduling software, the electronic learning and coaching materials can be automatically delivered at times when call activity is expected to be low.