Tri-State dispatch center following trend of using AI

Tri-State emergency dispatch center to start using AI program
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 10:59 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - AI has become a useful, but controversial, tool in many areas. Now it’s being used by a Tri-State emergency dispatch center.

The Hamilton County Communications Center said it won’t use AI to answer calls, but they are rolling out a new program that uses the technology.

Dispatch centers in Maine have been using AI to answer non-emergency calls, a step the HCCC isn’t taking. Andrew Knapp, the HCCC Director of Communications, said he believes human interaction is a must no matter how much technology expands.

“I think no matter what we do with technology, no matter how good technology gets, there’s a certain aspect of human interaction for not just compassion, but for accuracy.”

That’s why the HCCC says AI will only be a quality assurance tool, which will cut out man hours and allow dispatch workers to spend more time handling emergencies.

“I think that’s one thing that people get concerned about - they don’t want to talk to a robot,” HCCC Operations Manager Scott Brown said. “They don’t want to deal with a robot, especially in an emergency situation. It’s not really to replace that person, it’s really just to help that person out or make us more efficient at our job.”

Cincinnati Police Chief Teresa Theetge said she wouldn’t approve any technology unless she knew it worked. She said it could be helpful in assisting a dispatcher or officer in taking down information from a caller or victim.

“It could be capturing a victim’s information like their driver’s license, instead of the officer having to ask questions,” Theetge said. “It could do a redaction on body cam footage. There could be a multitude of uses.”

Knapp said dispatchers in some states have used AI for calls, but have an option to switch to a live dispatcher.

AI hasn’t deterred HCCC’s need for dispatchers. Knapp said they are looking to fill 15 positions.

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