The multi-tool for those who protect and serve
Gillette Police Department, Gillette, Wyoming, USA
Digital Voice Systems Inc.
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The city of Gillette, located in the northeast corner of Wyoming, is a small town with a big presence. A significant source of coal, oil, and natural gas, the city also boasts an array of outdoor activities and popular attractions such as Devils Tower National Monument. But as much as Gillette might look like a nostalgic slice of Americana, its Police Department demonstrates how embracing the latest voice tech innovations has helped them achieve greater efficiency and ease of use across the organization.
Driving the next phase of digital evolution
Like many modern law enforcement agencies, the Gillette Police Department was using a computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system, which typically includes a portfolio of software packages used for communicating with field resources as well as managing the related data (such as reports, interviews, and more). Their particular system, which had been in place since 2007, was shifting its photography and dictation applications to the cloud. Unfortunately, the dictation portion of the solution fell short of the officers’ needs. While it was possible to strictly record audio files, the lack of options for pausing, rewinding, insertions, overriding, and other key functions made it impractical for the realities of working in the field.
Further, the voice recorders the officers had been using for recording voice files were causing unnecessary obstacles. Because they were not fully mobile-enabled, officers had to return to the station to download interviews to a folder, that would then be shared with the Records department for assignment to transcription. And because the voice recorders were of varying models, inconsistencies in their recording format often resulted in extra administrative time to convert unreadable files.
Because the officers were going to receive department-issued smartphones to capture photographs per the new cloud-based system, it made sense to look for a mobile-enabled dictation solution to complement that capability. Lisa Barthel, who began her 30-year career with the Gillette Police Department in Dispatch and now serves as its Records Supervisor, is responsible for all the software the department uses and led the effort to find the right voice solution. “We’d been using a software tool that was more than 12 years old, and we were overdue for an upgrade,” she says, noting that while the impetus for the change was the CAD system, she knew there were process improvements they could achieve by leveraging new voice tools.
One solution that meets many needs
In conducting her research, Barthel learned of Philips SpeechLive – a web-based speech-to-text solution and app - and was initially intrigued by its immediate availability for trial and onboarding. Within just a few weeks of her first inquiry in July 2021, ten of the department’s officers were testing SpeechLive in the field. Following their instant and enthusiastic feedback, the entire department – including 52 officers, four transcriptionists, and two administrators (including Barthel) – was using SpeechLive by August.
This overwhelming response was due to the clear value SpeechLive delivered to both officers and transcriptionists: From the officers’ perspective, the highly intuitive, adaptable, and flexible solution made their day easier. Instead of having to capture recordings on their voice recorders and waiting to upload them at the office, officers now simply use the SpeechLive app on their smartphones to record and send dictations to transcriptionists while on the go. Additionally, using their department-issued smartphones as both a camera and replacement for the voice recorder reduces the amount of equipment they need to carry while on duty. Once the voice files are received, workflows are streamlined for the office staff as well. Barthel and her counterpart oversee and assign the dictations to transcriptionists as appropriate directly in SpeechLive, eliminating intermediary steps in the file transfer and management process. From the transcriptionists’ point of view, the solution delivers outstanding audio clarity and mitigation of background noise (which is often an issue in the field) which makes it easier to decipher recordings no matter where they take place.
Results that “speak” for themselves
Time is a precious commodity, and it’s one that SpeechLive has been able to give back to the Gillette Police Department end to end. According to Barthel, even the self-described “tech-averse” officers who initially resisted installing the app on their phone and go through the training quickly realized how much faster and simpler it is to record and send voice files for processing using the solution – whenever and wherever needed. Accelerating the speed, efficiency, and productivity of the transcriptionists is another tangible outcome enabled by the solution’s superior accuracy. And lastly, there is no question that the organization is now saving significant amounts of administrative time that was formerly devoted to uploading and downloading, naming, filing, retrieving, and otherwise managing audio files.
While the investment in SpeechLive has paid for itself in the aforementioned time savings as well as the outdated equipment the organization was able to replace, Barthel says she looks forward to finding further ways to optimize their usage of SpeechLive to realize even more benefits in the future. From faster file categorization and labeling to increasing remote file-management capabilities, there is even more potential the Gillette Police Department hopes to achieve with this already indispensable tool.
The program is extremely easy to use and user-friendly. I honestly wouldn’t change anything. The upload process and labeling are as easy as it gets.
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