Public-safety officers can be safer, spend less time on reports and more time protecting the protecting the public, thanks to a new integration of Nuance Communications’ speech-recognition software and Nexgen Public Safety Solutions’ computer-aided dispatch (CAD) and records-management systems (RMS) technologies.

Mark Geremia, Nuance Communications’ vice president and general manager of the company’s Dragon speech-recognition software, said that many police vehicles are equipped with laptops that let officers complete at least some of their reporting responsibilities while parked in the field. While this helps improve public visibility of officers, it has created a safety issue for the officers, he said.

“[Officers are] actually now turned to right and looking down as they’re typing a report, which means they’re not situationally aware,’” Geremia said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “As we talk to chiefs, they’re saying, ‘My officers are being blindsided all of the time, because people are sneaking up on them, … but we want them to be out in the street, so people can know that they’re there.”

This situation is changed drastically by using Dragon Law Enforcement speech-to-text capability to complete reports, Geremia said.

“Now, with speech recognition, officers are keeping their heads up and dictating their reports while they are still in the automobile—not while driving, when they are parked on the side of the road,” he said. “[Officers are] able to be more productive, as well as be able to create the detailed incident reports or detailed detective reports—whatever needs to be done—and they’re doing it with much better quality and accuracy.”

Indeed, the ease of use associated with speech-recognition technology means that officers can develop their reports while incidents are fresh on their minds and makes them more prone to include greater detail in their narratives, Geremia said.

“Officers didn’t become officers to type up reports, they really wanted to protect the public,” he said. “So, instead of two-finger typing in two sentences of a report and saying, ‘OK, it’s good enough. My lieutenant can check it off,’ they’re actually now telling a story.

“Instead of two sentences, they’re creating two paragraphs or two pages of content, depending on the situation. That’s really where we’re excited to partner with [Nexgen] to bring that out.”

While the Dragon speech-to-text functionality has been available for many years, the new Nuance integration with Nexgen Public Safety Solutions means that officers verbally can complete various types of incident forms by answering questions prompted by the CAD or RMS system, according to Nexgen Public Safety Solutions CEO Sal Annunziato.

“If you think about how long it takes for some of these officers to type that all out, it’s mind-boggling,” Annunziato said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “The [in-car] technology actually slowed down the process for a lot of these cops in the field, [as they transitioned] from writing it down on a piece of paper to putting it into the laptop. For some of these folks, it takes more time.

“With [speech recognition], it completely changes everything. Their heads are up, they’re able to look at the areas they’re policing, and they’re just speaking into the microphone. The integration with the Nexgen system walks you through the report, so it’s a seamless integration between Nexgen and Nuance as the officers are in the field.”