There are an estimated 240 million 9-1-1 calls every year in the United States according to NENA. Many of these are non-emergency situations including ghost or auto-dialed calls from someone’s back pocket.These extra calls for service can increase wait times for those who are experiencing a life-threatening incident. How can emergency call centers and primary public safety answering points (PSAPs) better manage these types of calls?
Technology from the private sector that is often cloud-based has been adapted to help address the high call volume for non-emergency issues. The solutions relieve some of the stress on dispatchers and first responders while providing faster customer service to community members.
What’s Your Emergency?
When you call 9-1-1 for service, the dispatcher often uses standard call triage protocols. They have been trained to ask specific questions in a priority sequence, such as location and the nature of the situation. This information helps determine whether an emergency response is required or if it’s a non-urgent issue. In a few cases, such as in Jefferson County (KY), 40-50% of 9-1-1 calls were for non-emergency situations.
Examples of Non-Emergency Calls
A crime with no suspect (example: theft of construction materials)
A crime with suspect, but the suspect is not on the scene (example: fraud)
A serious crime with suspect, but after a lengthy delay (example: occurred “last week”)
On-going crime issues or crimes that are not in-progress
Suspicious circumstances that may indicate ongoing criminal activity
Non-injury and non-blocking vehicle accidents
Nuisance complaints (example: noise, parking, etc.)
Non-dangerous animal control issues
Information about or messages to police personnel or other agencies
Reporting power, telephone, or cable outages
However, community members are generally told to dial 9-1-1 if they are unsure of their situation and the dispatcher will help them determine if immediate action is required. The call taker may direct the caller to hang up and use the non-emergency line which isn’t very satisfying for either party.
The high volume of non-emergency calls puts a strain on the PSAPs. Dispatchers and first responders must answer and assess the situation of each one. A high-stress environment involving complex processes across multiple systems presents challenges for efficiency and retaining experienced personnel.
On the community side, public safety agencies don’t have a choice. They must consider the nature of some calls to be a lower priority, especially with the current difficulty of retaining and hiring enough staff to support what’s needed. However, you still want them to feel like they were treated well because people remember the experiences they have when engaging with your agency.
Smart Automation from Call to Finish
There is a way your agency can provide instant service with high-quality results that leaves community members feeling served and heard on their first contact with you. By deploying a virtual investigator that is a sophisticated, responsive chatbot, you can focus on high-priority areas while delivering the service people need. This solution will also help reduce the workload for call takers and first responders by streamlining processes and moving non-urgent calls from the emergency line more quickly.
This technology can be deployed in two ways: either as a transfer option from 9-1-1 centers or as an AI-supported pre-dispatcher. The underlying system offers a full interview and investigation process like a dispatcher and officer would, depending on which option is implemented. Communications are available through voice, mobile, web, and text to simplify a complex process and deliver better service through intelligent dialogue. The system follows up automatically with the caller after a report submission, providing relevant updates based on their case.
Purposeful Integrations for Public Safety
Modern technology solutions help address the challenges associated with the high volume of non-emergency calls. These cloud-based applications integrate with your current CAD/RMS systems to provide an efficient and effective way to manage non-emergency workflows and deliver better outcomes for community members. By simplifying non-emergency call reporting, the solutions increase your capacity to serve.
Conversational technology eliminates the need to tell someone to self-file while ensuring the correct information is captured for a complete report. This type of interaction offers a more natural yet flexible format for the community member to convey information about an incident than filling out a static form. These applications can change the public's perception by one new engagement at a time and reduce the burden on call takers and first responders. Learn more about Versaterm's solutions for non-emergency call handling.