How is AI helping 911 Dispatchers Respond Faster?

Artificial intelligence (AI) has become an essential element of modern technology in nearly every industry. OpenAI’s ChatGPT and other generative AI solutions have also quickly become mainstays in day-to-day consumer tech suites. From discovering food recipes, to solving supply chain challenges, to constructing complex code, AI is here to stay. In this ubiquitous context, it makes sense that AI has begun to penetrate the realm of public safety, with companies beginning to incorporate AI-powered solutions into their offerings. 9-1-1, in particular, has become a hotbed for new applications of AI.

When the stakes are life and death, the margin for error is non-existent, and the working conditions as challenging as ever, AI has the potential to make a massive difference…but will it be a positive one?

The Current State of 911 Dispatch Centers

9-1-1 in America is stressed to the breaking point.

Day after day, call after call, 9-1-1 telecommunicators listen to people’s worst moments and navigate emergencies with calm to dispatch an appropriate and effective response. Adding to the call to call chaos, the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED) highlights that agency staffing has reached crisis levels:

“Nearly one-third [of surveyed agencies] reported stunning vacancy rates in 2022…’An alarming number of 911 centers are experiencing their own workforce emergencies,’ said Harriet Rennie-Brown, Executive Director of NASNA. ‘Better workforce recruitment, retention, and support are crucial to the quality of the 911 emergency services we all rely on.’”

The IAED report reveals:

Amplifying the issue, modern consumer technology has caused a boom in the amount of accidental 9-1-1 calls, jamming up the emergency line and pulling telecommunicators away from real emergencies. “Hangups” have caused so many challenges for 9-1-1 that companies have built solutions to address the problem.

With staffing down, accidental calls rising, and overall call volume rising around the country, can AI represent a possible salve?

How AI is Transforming 911 Dispatch Centers

AI is machine’s ability to perform cognitive functions traditionally associated with human minds. It’s reliant on algorithms that can detect patterns and learn how to make predictions independently.

The most effective telecommunicators are incredibly adept at using their experience to recognize the best solution to a given emergency based on a similar situation from the past. Sound similar?

AI isn’t nearly advanced enough to replicate the human skill needed to address a complex, evolving emergency…but it might be able to help. Potential applications for AI in 9-1-1 include:

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Benefits of AI in Emergency Dispatch

When AI is implemented in a 9-1-1 center, what benefits could they expect to experience? Here’s three.

Efficiency and accuracy

Every second matters on every 9-1-1 call. With centers understaffed and facing heavy call volumes, time saved on calls quickly adds up to significant benefit in the short and long-term. For example, using call transcripts and AI-powered insights, a telecommunicator won’t have to repeat a question from earlier in the call if they weren’t able to make a note. Instead, AI recognizes key data points and highlights them for the telecommunicator.

One less question means a few seconds saved…but how about one less question on 100 calls? Or hundreds of calls over the course of week? Or a month?

Additionally, by recognizing and highlighting insights, AI can help reduce errors in sharing key information with field responders, ensuring more accurate dispatch. When the dispatch is accurate, field response resources are properly directed, reducing the chance that a critical incident might be left with an ineffective or inappropriate response.

Enhanced Analytics

AI has the potential to drastically impact an agency’s ability to detect emergency hotspots. For example, if a six-car pileup occurs on the highway, an agency might receive a flood of calls from concerned bystanders. The issue, however, is that each successive call only serves to bog down resources alerting the agency to an emergency they're already aware of.

What if the agency had technology that could automatically detect call surges from certain locations and quickly close calls about the single incident?

Reducing Workload

One of the most critical skills for effective telecommunicators is the ability to multitask. As calls and emergency develop, the telecommunicator might balance three to four different screens, multiple keyboards, and a variety of tools to take notes, receive location, and pass information to responders in the field.

If even one of these tasks can be automated, the telecommunicator could be freed to focus more deeply on another element of the call. For example, AI-powered transcripts and insights have shown significant potential to help assist with one of the biggest tasks: note-taking. By reducing the telecommunicator’s need to jot down every single detail, AI could allow the telecommunicator to more easily process one call and get to the next.

How does Prepared’s AI help 911 Dispatch Centers?

Prepared Assist is an AI-powered, assistive 9-1-1 technology built to meet the core challenges of modern public safety. Each feature and tier of the platform is focused on helping agencies achieve one goal: process calls faster and more accurately. By enabling greater efficiency, Prepared Assist can help agencies with staffing issues maintain quality and meet the needs of their community despite having inadequate personnel.

With Assist, telecommunicators can:

What does that look like in action?

Case Studies and Real-World Applications

Discover what AI looks like in action by downloading the Prepared Toolkit “How PSAPs are Using AI in 2024

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