Answering the call: Lancashire’s voice to text analytics project
Project leaders Chief Supt Ian Dawson and Insp Andy Doran explain the background to the project, the actions already completed, and the potential for further advances.
“This has been an exceptional partnership between the public and private sector in developing a solution to a complex problem to improve the policing service to the public. The work has been shared by Lancashire Constabulary with other forces nationally through the National Contact Management Steering Group for adoption of this technology nationally, and with the Home Office for consideration in developing the solutions for the re-contracting of 101”.
If you would like to read about HPE’s work with Lancashire constabulary in more detail, please click here.
In 2016 Lancashire Constabulary commenced a detailed ‘systems thinking’ review of its centralised Force Control Room (FCR). In line with Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner’s (PCC’s) Police and Crime Plan and the force’s priority of the delivery of core service, the work was developed with significant support from the PCC. It was delivered in partnership by the Constabulary’s FCR and Futures teams, with the programme led by the chief officer team. The aim was to improve the FCR’s performance by enriching our understanding of demand and capacity, while also improving our capability and service quality to the public.
Understanding the problem
Lancashire Constabulary receives 1.2 million calls per year into the FCR. Typically, these are split between 900,000 101 calls and 300,000 999 calls. Out of the 900,000 101 calls, the Constabulary creates 300,000 logs with the remaining 600,000 calls sitting as unlogged audio files.
During this review a team of eight spent one and a half months listening to thousands of unlogged calls to understand demand in detail. Although this insight was essential it was suboptimal and unsustainable. The method used expensive resource and due to long timescales, there was no real understanding of real-time demand and limited understanding of internal or external factors influencing demand. The review did provide insight however for some of the large call categories. Examples can be found here
While the Constabulary had already invested in significant digital options for public contact, it was clear that this was not creating ‘channel shift’. Although a much talked about premise in policing, we found that channel shift in its current design simply creates more avenues for failure demand to enter the system, without addressing the root cause. Consequently, this reduces the capacity within the digital channels to deal with value demand. Currently, forces across the country utilise switchboards or call back facilities to screen out this type of demand, but voice to text technology provides the insight needed to deal with this demand effectively and prevent it coming into the FCR.
Finding a solution
In 2018, Lancashire Constabulary carried out extensive private and public sector research with the aim of identifying a solution to this problem. The force worked with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Intelligent Voice (IV) to a develop real time understanding of all unlogged demand through the development of a voice to text translation solution.
The project also aimed to utilise the wider datasets to help understand when these calls were received, the levels of vulnerability within the calls, and the impact on the wellbeing of our call takers. An on-premises test environment was built which enabled performance hardware and software to process a sample set of 60,000 calls. The insight from these calls helped to create conceptual and logical data models, which eventually resulted in physical data models that helped make the invisible, visible.
This was designed in three phases, which included 1. Testing the effectiveness of the voice to text technology. 2. Building on learning from phase 1 and to assess how effective the tech was at improving understanding of mental health and vulnerability demand, 3. Focused on moving from a closed-loop system to a sustainable integrated model within the forces ICT architecture.
To read the review of the phases, including results – please click here.
- As of 16th March 2021, the system had categorised 330,000 calls since going live, this would have taken Lancashire’s team of 8 people 31 years if they continued reviewing unlogged calls manually.
- Reduced average call times as a result of targeted training, based on insights into the calls
- Enabled the force to monitor the impact of interventions. The example provided by Andy Doran was of the message on the IVR. Previously they would have assumed this would have had an effect but now they know that's not the case.
- They also mentioned staff being happier as management have visibility of all calls and not just the logged calls.
If you have any questions, please reach out to Georgie using the details below.
Georgie joined techUK as the Justice and Emergency Services Programme Manager in March 2020.
Georgie is dedicated to representing suppliers by creating a voice for those who are selling into blue lights and the justice system, but also by helping them in navigating this market. Georgie is committed to creating a platform for collaboration, from engaging with industry and stakeholders to understand the latest innovations, to the role tech can play in responding to a range of issues our justice and emergency services are facing
Prior to joining techUK, Georgie managed a Business Crime Reduction Partnership (BCRP) in Westminster. She worked closely with the Metropolitan Police and London borough councils to prevent and reduce the impact of crime on the business community. Her work ranged from the impact of low-level street crime and anti-social behaviour on the borough, to critical incidents and violent crime.