Previously in these virtual pages we have discussed the future of computer-aided dispatch or, more accurately, the past predictions where the future of computer-aided dispatch is concerned. Computer-aided dispatch (CAD) software, together with records management systems like Caliber Public Safety’s Online RMS, has become an integral part of law enforcement, emergency response, and other first-response activities in the modern landscape. As technology and software continue to advance (a progression whose leading-edge Caliber and its personnel are proud to drive), one element has come to the fore that was among the predictions made even years ago: artificial intelligence.

Specifically, artificial intelligence is rapidly becoming a factor as the entire world becomes enamored of what it can do. Artificially intelligent chat programs that draw from the Internet to produce answers to questions, organize thought articles, and even rudimentary fiction stories are already driving a great deal of controversy and discussion. Art programs that use AI have drawn the ire of human artists; writers and journalists have complained that AI could put them out of a job (despite its many flaws, such as a nagging tendency to plagiarize), and of course the science-fiction spectacle of artificial intelligence as robot antagonist looms over it all. Lost in all this, however, is one thing AI is getting better and better at doing: interpreting naturally spoken language.

Already, fast food chains are experimenting with using artificial intelligence to process orders. This makes sense: Touch kiosks now allow such chains to partially automate elements of their business. In a time of staffing shortages, letting the customer input his or her order makes sense… but a customer base that has been trained for years to speak that order into a waiting microphone would be more comfortable continuing to do so. Until recently, only a human being could interpret those spoken orders, ask relevant questions, and process the information to pass on the order to those fulfilling it. Now, though, AI is getting good enough to do that interpretation, taking both human beings AND touchscreen ordering out of the loop.

The application to computer-aided dispatch is obvious: A computer that can take a 911 call, process the needed response, and alert the necessary agencies and/or personnel would greatly speed up the processing of emergency calls. Instead of a human operator entering information in a computer-aided dispatch software program, that same program could be configured to receive inputs from the AI voice processor, ask relevant queries, and connect the caller to needed help… not just quickly, but simultaneously to other AI calls in progress. In other words, AI could conceivably mean that every single 911 call could be field at the same time, forever eliminating the possibility that an overtaxed 911 call center could leave callers waiting for a human response.

There is a long way to go, of course, before that type of technology will be ready, and there are also ethical and practical concerns. While AI could help take some of the emotional burden off personnel who staff computer-aided dispatch, computers don’t have human compassion and aren’t capable of the emotional intelligence required to handle different calls, sometimes extremely dangerous calls, with the nuance required. Still, advances in AI hold a great deal of promise… and it’s going to be exciting to see how this affects the future of public safety software.