Companies, businesses, and organizations of all types are always looking for ways to improve their operations, seeking benefits that range from cost savings and better time management to greater employee productivity. Such was the case with the Chatham-Kent Police Service (CKPS) in Ontario, Canada.
CKPS had the opportunity to improve its process for submitting case reports – a process that saw officers dictate reports and send audio files to Civilian Data Entry (CDE) personnel for them to type out the recorded report, word-for-word. This resulted in a significant backlog of case reports, which lessened their overall quality and required extra time from both officers and CDEs to ensure that the information was accurate.
Seeing that they had the chance to make improvements, CKPS Chief of Police Dennis Poole and the service’s IT department led an initiative to overhaul the reporting process. Recognizing the benefits of dictation and transcription, they upgraded the CKPS server system, and worked with Nuance and other partners to introduce MPA Dictation and Voice Report – two enterprise dictation and workflow solutions that leverage Dragon speech recognition software.
Officers could now dictate their reports and a case occurrence number using MPA Dictation. Voice Report takes that audio file, transcribes it through CKPS’ revamped server, and delivers a text transcript back to the officer’s Blackberry device. From there, the officer can edit the report text and make corrections before sending it on to the CDEs.
Before long, more than 120 of CKPS’ 170 officers were using MPA Dictation and Voice Report, and the early results demonstrated immediate improvements in the report-submission process.
Three primary benefits emerged as CKPS went through its reporting process transition: better time management and convenience for officers in the field, improved quality of submitted reports, and less time commitment and physical strain for CDEs.
Officers can now file their reports while they are in the field, advance their cases, and quickly respond to other incoming calls. “With the ability to file and edit occurrence reports from wherever I need to, I can spend more time focusing on the issues that matter to the people in the neighborhoods that I patrol,” said Constable Mark Vandergriendt.
This also results in higher quality reports, which matter from the service level all the way up to the court system. Before Dragon was implemented, officers were often asked to recount details from cases that began several weeks prior, and the Crown Attorney responsible for CKPS’ case file reports used to seek clarifications on certain case details. Staff Sergeant Barry Childs noted: “Counsel wants professional, detailed, clean reports to present to court. We have realized quicker resolutions of case files, saving us a tremendous amount of time compared to how we used to do our reports.”
The improved reporting process virtually eliminated keyed entry for the CDEs, resulting in better workflows, extra time to allocate for other responsibilities, and reduced risk of repetitive strain injuries. A typical two-page report used to take the CDEs over 10 minutes to type out and submit into the system. Now, it takes the CDEs less than two minutes to copy, paste, and submit the case reports and occurrence numbers, resulting in an 85% reduction in time spent on common reports. Backlogs of three to four weeks were drastically reduced, and reports are now submitted and organized daily, with backlog reduced to zero.
The savings in time spent typing also mitigate RSI risk – something that CKPS was concerned about prior to the overhauled reporting process. “Our previous method for data entry was keying reports dictated by officers, which was time consuming, inefficient, and strenuous,” CDE Michael Cox said. “I am now able to complete reports quicker, reducing the need for spell checks, while at the same time producing consistent, accurate results.”
CKPS plans to continue using speech recognition in the future, with the hope of expanding to license plate dictation and other areas. By utilizing speech-to-text technology, frontline officers will save time by avoiding keyed entry in favor of speaking a license plate’s alphanumeric code into their devices and having all of the important vehicle information displayed on their screens.