Many public-safety answering points (PSAPs) have yet to adopt a formal quality-assurance (QA) program, according to the results of a survey administered during a recent Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) webinar.

More than 500 North American PSAPs registered for the webinar, and about 12% of participants said they check 10 calls or more each month for quality assurance. Between 40% and 50% of the participants do not have a formal QA program.

Of the PSAPs that have a program, about 32% manually select calls. About 11% have an automated process in place that randomly selects a sampling of calls. About 26% only check EMD calls, 9% randomly sample all high-priority incidents, and 7% review all high-priority incidents.

The need for QA programs will increase as PSAPs introduce new technologies and procedures for next-generation 911, said Patrick Botz, vice president of marketing with Voice Print International (VPI). APCO and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) are working to develop a QA standard.  

“There’s obviously protocols that we need to follow, and it really helps with defense against liability lawsuits and making sure that we’re following regulations, and with next-generation 911 coming just around the corner—and it’s already kind of in full swing—there’s going to be a lot of things that we’re going to be asking from our call-takers that they’re not doing today,” Botz said during the webinar.

“So quality assurance is going to become more and more important in the coming months and years, as we introduce next-gen 911.”

A manual QA process can be a time-consuming task for call-center managers, with an evaluation typically taking about three to six weeks to complete, Botz said. Automated processes can simplify the task for evaluators, enabling them to provide more consistent and timely feedback to call-takers.

Manual evaluations—especially where calls are only pulled in response to a complaint—can be just as odious for call-takers, Botz said. A good program can help ensure that citizens are receiving the level of service they deserve while also boosting staff morale and helping employees develop professionally, he said.