VPI Recording and QA System Improves Efficiency, Productivity for City of Edmond, Oklahoma

Customer: City of Edmond

Industry: Public Safety (Gov. Agency)

State: OK

 

Edmond is the sixth largest city in the state of Oklahoma. It is a full service city that emphasizes responsiveness, financial accountability and transparancy to its residents. Edmund needed to centralize QA operations and effectively monitor calls handled by employees of electric, water and sewer utilities. The city of Edmund chose VPI’s award-winning interaction recording system along with VPI’s tightly integrated quality assurance (QA) solution.

Business Profile

With a population of over 68,000, Edmond is the sixth largest city in the state of Oklahoma.   Located in the central part of the state, Edmond is a full service city that emphasizes responsiveness, financial accountability and transparency to its residents.  Edmond's Public Safety Services – Police Department, Fire Department, 9-1-1 Call Center and Emergency Management Services – work in partnership to provide the highest quality service and protection for residents, guests and visitors.

Challenge

In addition to achieving centralized management of the quality and liability of its public safety agencies, the City also needed to effectively monitor calls handled by employees of electric, water and sewer utilities. In order to record, store and review all of this diverse voice traffic, the City resolved to implement a flexible and reliable technology that would centralize recording and storage of all types of communications. With this came the need to effectively separate the access rights of the agencies involved in order to prevent them from cross-accessing each other’s calls.  As a result of the City’s involvement in a joint NENA and APCO effort to craft new Quality Assurance Standards for emergency communication workers, the City wanted to implement a recording system that came with integrated, software-based Quality Assurance tools for the effective measurement and improvement of employee performance.

The City needed advanced recording and call processing technology to meet its high standards for quality. In addition to proven, 100% recording capabilities, it was imperative that the new recording system integrate with all of the City’s applicable communication systems. Extensive, centralized online storage and fast, simple call retrieval, playback and export were also major considerations. Many event investigations called for the fast location and retrieval of recorded communications for delivery to the district attorney's office, detectives and others – sometimes with little or no notice. Unlike their existing recorder, the new system would have to be easy and inexpensive to upgrade and maintain.  It was also highly desirable that the new quality assurance system would allow for centralized management of evaluation of a variety of different types of calls by applying different standards, metrics and criteria to each, yet still permit centralized reporting on all quality evaluations and associated trends.

Solution

The City of Edmond 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, both sold and serviced through VPI partner Replay Systems.

“The open architecture was absolutely critical in the decision to purchase our current recorder,” said Matt Stillwell, director of central communications and emergency management at the City of Edmond “The advantage is that I’m in control and don’t have a vendor dictating when to replace my recording system. With the secure Web based interface, I can get the calls from anywhere – it is very easy to pull calls and get them to others by email, on a CD, or even a thumb drive.”

City employees with access rights can now access data and recordings from the comfort of any PC.  Sending a recording by email is equally easy and quick – with just the click of a mouse.  This is a major improvement over the past, where audio was stored and accessed in a separate building.  In order to access the recorder and get to the recordings, employees had to physically leave their office or even their building.  Recordings were then retrieved and placed on a CD.  Each time a request for recordings was made, it required an inconvenient trip to the site of the recording system.

Today, the City stores all recordings for seven years on their network-based storage device.  Stilwell appreciates this new level of convenience, “In the past, the difficulty was, where are you going to put all those recordings?  We’d have to store them on tapes and DVDs in closets.  Seven years of data takes up a lot of space.  In today’s environment, with terabytes of data that can be stored on our network, we no longer archive onto any external, removable devices.  Recordings are now very easy to export.  Lawyers are getting electronic-media friendly.  We can give them the recordings in electronic or email format – 911 recordings can be pulled really quickly on request and emailed.

We also use the system’s simple call retrieval functionality in a way that we couldn’t in the past.  When somebody does a really good job on a call or is innovative in handling a call successfully, or if there is some other content in a call that could be used for training purposes, it is very simple to email the call to the entire staff.  It takes no longer than it would take to send it to just one person. And then there is a goofy stuff that happens –communications with funny, crazy callers – we share those recordings too, just to lighten up the atmosphere.”

The VPI system also simplifies the process of finding calls for case evidence assembly.  The City has the capability to pull single or multiple calls that pertain to a case, such as those revolving around a capital crime, homicide or armed robbery.  The system makes it easy to recreate an in-depth scenario in real time. 

In order to serve the full time recording needs of all of the City’s emergency communication centers, along with the selective recording needs of other employees, such as those who serve the City’s Utilities, VPI and Replay Systems delivered a flexible, centralized solution.  It provides full time recording of all configured employees, where the recording of non-emergency communication employees is set up as tentative - those employees can directly determine which of their calls deserve retention and which can be discarded, using a simple interface for selective tagging of active calls. 

“What’s pretty cool is that we are recording a 911 center and utility centers, and we also have other folks out there that have their own recording needs,” explained Stillwell. “Having this system available for any user in the City is a huge advantage, even when not everybody needs recording all the time.  For example, a fire marshal, detectives, or office folks, who traditionally had some little antiquated recording system, can now decide which calls to keep – even halfway through the call, as long as they make that decision prior to the disconnect of the call.  We find this to be a huge advantage. We also have a capability to retain the call recordings for different periods of time for different types of folks.”

Quality Assurance

The overall objective of the City’s QA program is to consistently improve performance and to ensure that its customers are receiving the best possible service.  According to Mr. Stillwell, “Delivery of high-quality service depends on the performance of both the City employees and the processes in use.  The QA process cannot only expose if somebody is not doing their job right.  It can also expose whether or not our policies are in line with what we need – to be able to provide good quality service. QA also allows us to be very transparent with our staff – employees need to know what’s expected of them and the QA process is a great facilitator for that piece.  It is also a great tool to be used for our new folks for their training.  We find that recordings and a QA process itself allows the new employees to compare how they are doing with how a veteran does it.” 

To maximize the value of their quality assurance program, the City’s public safety communications management is working on creating different quality evaluation forms that could be applied to different call types. These forms will be entered into the VPI Quality Assurance solution and associated with appropriate types of calls.  “That way, we can account for idiosyncrasies of different call types and come up with more accurate quality ratings for our folks.  The more time we spend on a front end preparing this, the more value we will see on the back end” said Stillwell.  

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Significant Benefits

Since implementing VPI's award-winning technology, the City of Edmund has realized significant improvements in productivity and turnaround time in accessing and utilizing recorded telephone and radio communications. The quality of working conditions has greatly improved, allowing the City staff to concentrate all efforts on maintaining the highest standards in quality, rather than spending time administering to their recording system. Interactions with citizens 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.  Stillwell described his appreciation for the City’s customer relationship with VPI, “One of the key things here is that VPI understands public safety – there is a big difference between a vendor who serves a commercial business environment versus a public safety center.  This understanding of our operations determines the speed of responsiveness, which was critical in our vendor selection process.”  With the implementation of VPI’s progressive technology, the City is now prepared to comply with newly emerging standards for next-generation recording and quality assurance.