Edmonton police, overloaded with calls from the public are attempting to reduce call volume with an automated system.
According to an article printed in the Edmonton Sun, the city's police department began using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system last week to handle calls at its headquarters located downtown. The system, which operates as a non-emergency, public line, will provide callers with two initial options: pressing “1” will reportedly send callers to a phone tree that deals with information about the city, and pressing “2” will send callers to a series of options that deal with complaints. Sgt. Mitch Liwczak of the Edmonton police spoke about the capabilities of the new system.
“The IVR will provide information about what they need to do,” Liwczak said, “and [it] kind of directs them on what to do so they are not sitting in a queue waiting for a person to tell them that same information.”
He said the automated system can lead people toward information about the most common of inquiries. This can include information about police station locations, how to report crimes through an online portal, and how to report non-injury vehicle collisions.
Liwczak indicated that the police department received approximately 562,000 non-emergency calls last year. A staff of 15 people attempted to handle that volume. During the summer when the number of incoming calls reaches its peak, the police department can reportedly experience up to 2,500 calls in a single day. The sergeant said it is not always an option to hire additional staff members to help answer police phones.
The automated system should help reduce some call volume. The Edmonton Sun said city officials expect the IVR to reduce the number of calls police will handle manually by about 20 percent. In addition to providing information for callers, the IVR will also allow callers to stay on their lines to speak to a real person. Liwczak said he believes the system will work to the benefit of the public and that, despite the technological hurdle, people will find that it works well.
“You're going to be going from a 10-minute wait time, sitting in a queue or longer, to maybe a minute or less where you'll be getting the service you require. I think the public will really find this is going to be effective,” he said.