Using Speech to Save Lives and Money

Locution today released a new version of its CADVoice 911 Automated Dispatching Software, a software solution that uses speech technology to enable a swifter response time from fire fighters and paramedics.  

The enhancements on CADVoice version 5.8, which will be available in November, center around the application’s voice capabilities. The system relies on concatenated speech technology, in which a prerecorded human voice is stored in an audio database, and strings together the syllables and words, controlling the pauses between them. The recent upgrades sharpens clarity. "The better you can announce things, the better theaccuracy," says Glenn Neal, Locution Systems’ president and chief technology officer. "If a dispatch is made for afire personnel that needs to go to an emergency, they can’t accidentally thinkthey said Sahara instead of Sierra.  That’s huge. That’s why it’s real important to have high clarity in the system."

Additionally, CADVoice feedback mechanisms are enhanced for users.  Thus, a user is kept abreast when the system processes information and is given a timeframe as to when this information will be fully interpreted.

Neal worked with the engineering company Boulder Labs to hone the system’s voice algorithms and maximize the feedback mechanisms.  The system is software-driven and is designed to run on standard PCs.  

In implementing automated dispatching, a response unit reduces 911 call stacking, dispatcher stress, and operational costs. But most important, response times with the system average from 20 seconds per call during off-peak times to three minutes per call during times of high-volume or large-scale emergencies. "The way it’s used is the dispatchers kick the whole systemoff," says Neal. "When you call 911, it gets routedto the dispatchers, they hit the commit key once they’ve collected all theinformation. That sends the informationto our text to speech engine which resides in each fire station and turns thetext into a very natural sounding dispatch that tell the emergency personnelwhere to go."

Because installations need to be customized to accommodate the upgrades, current Locution customers will be phased into the program by the second quarter of 2008. A basic configuration costs $27,000 for software for a 911 call center and $6,185 per fire station.  The system is currently deployed on a city-wide, and often county-wide, level in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Austen, Seattle, Fort Worth, Dallas, and Chicago.  Locution currently has plans in the near future to implement systems in Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto.  

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