Speech-to-text for the e-government revolution

In recent years, nations worldwide have embarked on ‘e-government’ initiatives, determined to minimize paper processes and deliver more accessible, efficient citizen services. From the US to the UK, to Australia, governments have committed to making their infrastructures more robust and secure and their processes more efficient and accessible for users.  

But digital processes are only as efficient as the people who use them; it’s not enough to replace paper with pixels and forms with fields. Getting e-government right means ensuring new digital workflows are much more intuitive than the old paper-based processes. And that means supporting staff—whether they’re processing a citizen’s tax return or writing up a family visit—with automation and AI. 

One technology that’s already making a profound difference in this area is speech recognition, and specifically, speech-to-text. 

Could speech-to-text be a catalyst for more efficient citizen services? 

Speech-to-text technology has evolved rapidly in recent years—it’s now a fast, reliable way to reduce administrative effort while driving the creation of more accurate and detailed documentation and correspondence. 

That’s because we speak three times faster than we type. In fact, people speak at an average of 130 words per minute—a pace that even the fastest professional typist would struggle to match. 

For a public sector worker following a digital workflow, speech-to-text can be a huge time-saver, allowing them to dictate everything from notes and forms to lengthy reports. And that, of course, means they can spend more time serving citizens or reestablishing their work/life balance. 

A social worker, for example, may spend the best part of their evenings typing up the paper notes or voice memos they’ve made during the working day. With a robust speech-to-text solution, those reports can be dictated straight onto the digital page in the moment. The information captured is fresh and comprehensive, and the social worker can finish on time—and see more of their own family. 

Streamlined public services in action 

Our own Dragon family of speech-to-text solutions—including the cloud-based Dragon Professional Anywhere and super-portable Dragon Anywhere Mobile—are underpinned by world-class speech recognition technology. 

Our latest engine allows Dragon solutions to deliver up to 99% accuracy out of the box and the flexibility to tailor the dictionary to the user’s role. So, social workers can add protective services terminology, police officers can add law enforcement phrases, safety inspectors can add environmental health acronyms—whatever they need to make their workflows faster. 

We’ve seen how Dragon can transform the working day of public service professionals, including the team at the Delaware Division of Family Services (DFS) and the force at the Boulder County Sherriff’s Office in Colorado.  

The DFS needed a way to turn around documentation more quickly, without risking non-compliance—allowing its people to spend more time with vulnerable children and families. Its caseworkers now use a digital recorder to dictate notes in the field and Dragon automatically transcribes these notes back at the office. And when they’re working at their desks, they can dictate directly into applications.  

The team, which includes 200 family crisis therapists, family services specialists, assistants, and administrators, can now input case notes up to 75% faster. 

In Colorado, the Boulder County Sherriff’s Office adopted Dragon as part of its record management system (RMS) upgrade. With a Nuance PowerMic, the officers can dictate notes and complete forms in the field—it’s faster, more efficient, and safer for the team.  

In less than a year, the Sherriff’s Office has dictated more than 2.7 million words. Typing those words at 40wpm would have taken its officers almost seven full weeks—47 days. But with Dragon and its officers’ average talking speed of 128 words per minute, it’s taken just 15.  

Speech recognition: one powerful tech among many 

Implementing speech-to-text solutions is just one way to apply automation and AI to e-government initiatives and drive digital process efficiency. 

Related technologies like conversational AI and behavioral analytics are already having a significant impact on public-facing systems—from virtual assistants that help citizens self-serve to proactive live chat solutions that intelligently identify struggling website visitors and connect them to a human agent. 

It can be an overwhelming field to the uninitiated, so wherever you are on your digital transformation journey, you’ll want to take some time to identify and engage the right technology partner. But it’s well worth the effort. When public services get e-government right, the benefits run deep and wide—from lower costs to happier citizens and happier staff. 

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Ed McGuiggan

About Ed McGuiggan

Ed McGuiggan is General Manager for the Dragon Professional and Consumer business, overseeing the strategy for Nuance's Dragon speech recognition and documentation product line. Ed has held various leadership roles within Nuance over the past two decades, including the creation, development, and expansion of the company’s worldwide eCommerce business, as well as the management of the Corporate and Retail sales teams. Prior to joining Nuance in 1997, Ed held senior management roles at FTP Software and Corporate Software, Inc. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mass Communications from Emerson College.