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Customer Success Story
Alachua County Profile
Alachua County serves over 227,000 residents plus students and staff at the University of Florida.
Agency Challenge
The County needed to centralize management of quality and liability of its public safety agencies, and address high turnover among emergency communications employees
Solution Overview
VPIís award-winning interaction recording system along with VPIís tightly integrated quality assurance (QA) solution
Significant Benefits
Easier to find, export and distribute recordings; Streamlined Quality Evaluation across sites, job categorizations and event types; Motivated employees
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Alachua County Combined Communications Center Enters New Generation of Quality, Productivity with VPI

Alachua County needed to centralize management of its quality and liability and address the challenge of high employee turnover. With VPI, the County was able to streamline operations, increase productivity and make employees feel more motivated to perform.


“With our new VPI system, we can evaluate and automatically send the results of quality scoring to our staff on the floor, directly onto their dashboards, so they can keep their running scores and know how they are performing and how they compare to the team."

- Roy Carlisle
QA Specialist
Alachua County

Agency Profile

Alachua County is located in central Florida – it serves over 227,000 residents plus students and staff at the University of Florida.   Its county seat is Gainesville, FL.  Known for diverse culture and music, the County is also the home of University of Florida Fighting Gators.

Challenge

The County consolidated its City and County centers for call taking and emergency dispatch for faster, more efficient service for residents, guests and visitors.  Operating under Support Services Division of Alachua County Fire/Rescue Services, the Office of E-911 acts as liaison between the 911 service provider, private sector, other governmental agencies and the County's E-911 system.  Alachua County operates a Type 4 Enhanced 911 (E-911) system that automatically provides ANI (Automatic Number Identification) and ALI (Automatic Location Identification) information to call takers. Each telephone number is also tagged with an Emergency Service Number (ESN) that designates which Call Center the call is routed to, and which responding agencies have the address in their jurisdiction.

In addition to achieving centralized management of the quality management and liability of its public safety agencies, the County also had to deal with high turnover among emergency communications employees.  It needed to improve the efficiency of quality evaluation and training process and find a way to drive performance improvements among its communications staff.

To deal with these challenges, the County required a flexible and reliable technology that would centralize and streamline recording, storage, and evaluation of all types of communications.  As one of the major contributors to APCO’s and NENA’s new Quality Assurance Standards for emergency communication workers,  the County leads by example in their structure and frequency of quality evaluations – the new technology was to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of this process even further, while also adding innovative means of employee motivation.

Solution

The County demanded latest-generation recording and quality evaluation technology to support its newly consolidated operations with reliable management of liability and quality of service.  Flexible, reliable recording with centralized online storage and fast, simple call record retrieval and export across police and sheriff dispatch centers in city and county locations were must-haves.  

The new quality evaluation system had to provide interface for easy conversion of the existing paper-based QA process into the more efficient, more transparent electronic system.  The system would have to accommodate different types of forms and evaluation criteria that were developed for different employee categories and event types, yet still permit centralized reporting on all quality evaluations and associated trends.  It was also highly desirable that this system would enhance training and employee motivation.

Alachua County selected VPI’s award-winning interaction recording system along with VPI’s tightly integrated quality assurance (QA) solution for the objective, software based evaluation of employee performance with personalized, near-real time status updates presented to employees to drive performance improvements

Significant Benefits

“With our new VPI system, we can evaluate and automatically send the results of quality scoring to our staff on the floor, directly onto their dashboards, so they can keep their running scores and know how they are performing and how they compare to the team,” said Roy Carlisle, Quality Assurance Specialist in charge of QA program at Alachua County. 

“We know from experience that call takers get very competitive when presented with their performance statistics compared to others on the team.  For example, we had a situation in the past when no amount of environmental improvements – like better desks with individually controlled climate and lighting – improved performance in the number of calls taken per call taker as much as simply showing individual results to the team periodically.   We now announce perks for best performers at the beginning of a shift and then just show call takers how they are doing every couple of hours.  People would start making bets on who wins the next round by taking and resolving the most calls.  Nobody wants to be the worst performer!”

The County has seen vast improvement in quality and compliance since implementation of its formal QA program.  It is in the process of implementation of dashboard tickers for call taker and dispatcher desktops –thin strips of personalized information that do not overlap anything on the screen, but show exactly what people need to know about how their performance measures up and where they need to improve.  Combined with structured training program, this data presentation tool is also expected to be a major contributor in development and ramp-up of new communication center employees.

With VPI’s centralized, Web-based quality evaluation tools, Alachua County now has better means to utilize and showcase its extensive expertise.  The County uses advanced evaluation form structures that build on “10 Commandments of Call Taking” developed by the County QA experts.  Different evaluation forms and processes have been developed for different types of communications to reflect applicable standards. The forms include not only sets of questions and requirements to be evaluated in each call, quality scores and compliance scales, and but they also track follow-up steps that document supervisory responsibilities and methods used for employee improvement.  Beyond tracking individual compliance, the County also uses QA evaluation to identify trends and problems in processes or equipment in use.

The County’s QA evaluators are very open and upfront about the quality evaluation criteria and process with call takers and dispatchers.  In fact, new hires “go through a week worth of quality evaluation of their own calls as well as calls that have been completed by others, to learn what the quality assurance is about hands-on,” says Carlisle.  “We use quality evaluation as a very positive tool with our employees – the feedback is always objective, constructive, and conveyed in a positive tone.”  
Alachua County’s Quality Evaluation materials are being incorporated in the soon-to-be-released APCO/NENA Quality Assurance Standards for emergency communication workers.

With the new VPI recording systems, the County employees can easily access, visualize and analyze communications across all communication centers.  Recordings and associated data are protected from unauthorized access through security profiles that are assigned to individual users according to their roles and responsibilities.

Alachua County managers and evaluators can now quickly and easily find the calls they need from the comfort of any PC, regardless of which center or telephone or radio system they originated in. The VPI system simplifies the process of case evidence assembly by providing secure interface for recreation of in-depth scenarios.  For example, Mr. Carlisle described a case of a major structure fire that required investigation of associated emergency communications: “I needed a copy of all phone and radio traffic pertaining to the case that was about four to five hours long.  With VPI’s system, I was able to pull it all together and deliver within just some 10 minutes!”   The value of easy identification of calls by various attributes reaches beyond evidentiary purposes.  Apart from random evaluation of calls to assess employee performance, the County also routinely assembles and evaluates entire cases by their priority and by the amount of resources that were required in incident resolution, such as when multiple units were assigned.  

Since implementing VPI's award-winning technology, the Alachua County has realized significant improvements in productivity and turnaround time in accessing and utilizing recorded telephone and radio communications.  Records are now reliably recorded, stored, easily retrieved, and quickly sent out to the courts or distributed internally in order to further improve the quality of emergency communications.  The County leverages Quality Evaluation tools and processes not only to improve its own operations, but also set new standards for other emergency communication centers. With the implementation of VPI’s progressive technology, the County is now prepared to comply with newly emerging standards for next-generation recording and quality evaluation.

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