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NICE Systems, Inc.
950 Herndon Parkway
Suite 250
Herndon, VA 20170

Recording technology serves a vital purpose in 911 centers. It captures and preserves those moments in time when your agency's reputation - and the very lives your agency is charged with protecting - are on the line. The recordings of the 911 call, your call-taker's response, and the actions of emergency personnel are all crucial to understanding and uncovering what happened. If your center is like most, you probably capture hundreds of thousands of such incidents on your recording system each year. There they likely stay, untouched and unheard, until another defining moment - when a district attorney or another interested party makes a request for certain recordings. Then you're faced with the difficult task of finding all of the associated radio and phone communications, and piecing them together in a coherent way to reconstruct what happened. Without the right tools, it's no small feat.

That's why NICE designed Scenario Replay, a powerful multi-channel search and replay tool for 911 centers. Scenario Replay saves time and improves productivity by providing advanced filters and search criteria for retrieving audio recordings. In addition to time and date and channel numbers, you can search using ANI, ALI, unit IDs, talkgroup IDs, or a host of other data captured in your system. All of the recordings relating to an incident - both phone and radio - can be sequenced and played back in chronological order, exactly as they occurred. Scenario Replay also gets evidence into the hands of the district attorney faster. Now, instead of waiting for a re-recorded tape, the DA can get a .wav file recording of the entire incident at the speed of email.

One agency benefiting from this technology is the Broome County Emergency Dispatch/911 Center. The center handles all of the 911 calls for the City of Binghamton, New York and surrounding Broome County, fielding 1400 calls a day for 62 different police, fire and EMS departments. In December of 2004, the center replaced its DAT-based recording system with a new 112 channel recording solution from NICE equipped with the NICE Scenario Replay software.

According to Brett Chellis, communications supervisor for Broome County, Scenario Replay has vastly improved the center's operations in a number of key areas including investigations, QA/QI (quality assurance/quality improvement), and training.

Faster, more thorough investigations
The Broome County 911 center handled over a half-million calls last year alone, with 180,000 of those resulting in incidents where emergency assistance was dispatched. With this high volume of calls, the County needed a system that would offer both cost-effective long-term storage and fast access to recordings. With its new NICE solution, the County is able to store four months of calls online on an array of eight hard drives. At the request of the district attorney, the center also maintains a DVD archive of the previous two years' worth of calls. Using the Scenario Replay software, the center can quickly access recordings and reconstruct incidents for investigations.

"It saves an enormous amount of time," says Chellis. "We're able to process requests twice as fast as before." The new system from NICE doesn't require going back to tape to access calls, and the search capabilities are far more advanced. In fact, the County's NICE recording solution is even configured to capture ANI/ALI data, giving the center another point of reference when searching for calls. "This gives us a pretty quick way to search for calls from a particular address or phone number," notes Chellis. In some cases, there are even multiple 911 calls that originate from the same incident that come in on either cellular phones or wireline phones. Using Scenario Replay, the County is able to very quickly retrieve and piece together all of this information for a more thorough investigation.

According to Chellis, there are also cases where both the presence and lack of recording during a specific time period can be telling for an investigation. He explains: "There are times where we have to make copies of recordings with the silent period so that the jury can get the reality of the timeline and what was actually occurring." Scenario Replay facilitates this through its replay capabilities which allow spoken time and silent periods to be incorporated into the playback.

Scenario Replay also facilitates getting voice recorded evidence into the hands of the district attorney faster. Using its old system, the County had to rerecord audio onto cassette tapes. Today, it's not uncommon for the center to make .wav file copies of the recordings onto a CD, or even email them to the DA. "We're starting to do this more and more," says Chellis. "It saves on expense and the attorneys like it better because they don't have to physically come here and pick up the tape, or wait for us to send it to them. Now they get the recordings immediately."

QA/QI: in the dispatcher’s shoes
The Broome County 911 center employs a staff of 43 full-time and 11 part-time dispatchers who perform the dual role of taking calls and dispatching assistance. Dispatchers are trained in emergency medical dispatch so that they can provide pre-arrival instructions to callers, following specific protocols.

Six shift supervisors (who also serve as senior dispatchers) randomly review the dispatchers' calls for quality assurance, looking at every aspect of their call handling - how they answered the phone, whether they asked the right questions in the right order, and if they provided the right information to the caller and over the radio. According to Chellis, NICE Scenario Replay plays a crucial role in this QA/QI process too.

"Before we were only able to play one recording on one channel at a time," he says. "You'd listen to what happened on one frequency. Then you'd have to go back and hear what was said on another frequency. Then you'd go back and listen to the phone call. You couldn't listen to everything together as it really happened."

Using Scenario Replay, the center is able to reconstruct and replay all of the radio and phone recordings in sequential order and real-time as they occurred. Supervisors who are reviewing the calls for QA now get a much better and bigger picture of what really happened. "It's important when you're reviewing call-takers and dispatchers to be able to put yourself in their shoes when they were taking the calls," Chellis points out. "What other radio traffic were they getting? What information did they have at the time that might have influenced their handling of the call? Scenario Replay is the only way we've been able to really capture the whole picture."

An added benefit for the center - because it is easier to copy and distribute recordings, Broome County not only uses sample recordings to coach dispatchers but to train field personnel as well. "More and more agencies are requesting in-service training for their police and fire personnel," says Chellis, "and when they do they're asking for samples of actual calls and incidents. They're finding it very beneficial." Using Scenario Replay, the center can provide complete scenarios that help illustrate to field personnel how they can communicate more effectively, perform their jobs more safely, and better protect the community in the process.

Whether the County is using the Scenario Replay for investigations, quality assurance or training, the bottom line is the same according to Chellis. "It's saving us time and money," he says. And who knows, maybe saving lives in the process as well.

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