APD Communications

APD Communications

Control room demand: what can you do to improve its management?

Managing control room demand is one of the biggest operational challenges faced by control rooms across the public safety sector, and we’ve been at the forefront of researching this changing dynamic for over 2 years.

As part of this program, we surveyed the control room population to understand the challenges they face from changing demand and found that 75% of respondents taking 999 calls stated that call volumes had increased in the last 12 months and that this was driven by a range of factors including mental health, increasing fraud and online crime, accessibility to technology, changing population demographics and extreme weather.

In response to shifting demand patterns, we’ve been working to identify key drivers for control rooms in improving its demand management practices. Here, we look at the top 8.

Improve first point of contact resolution

Integrated technology and systems empower operators to get the whole picture at the first point of contact, which in turn speeds up the resolution time and prevents unnecessarily tying up further resources. This approach can be cultivated through working with collaborative suppliers, with open API’s that are passionate about connecting the back office with the control room to give a single-view of your caller, their circumstances and previous contact history.

Manage public expectations

With the reduction in national educational campaigns it has fallen to individual control rooms to educate the public about how and when to contact them.

Social media is a powerful tool for enforcing that message. We’re already seeing lots of control rooms posting on social media with high-impact graphics that make clear what’s appropriate for 999 and alternative reporting channels for non-emergency situations

Provide online automated channels

Online automation, with information about frequently asked questions and a quality knowledge database with good signposting to other non-emergency services is key to the future of demand-management. The creation of web portals, also allows the public to report important, but not urgent crime online, that can be managed when demand is at its lowest. Members of the public can also upload photos and video evidence, get crime numbers and check appointments without having to call in.

It’s important that these tools are accessible to the public and simple to understand, or they won’t be used. These channels are useful sources of feedback too, which will help in future demand planning – for example, by understanding which topics are most commonly searched for.

Use IVR and Chat Bots

The most natural starting point for chatbots in the control room is to start call triage on those that are still in the 101 or non-emergency queue. It’s a bold statement but sophisticated chatbots can identify the type of call, signpost to a more appropriate contact method or identify the need for a language-line translator to automatically engage the resources needed to help the call taker.

Use integrated software

New technologies are constantly emerging from new and established players that can and are already helping to improve demand management in the control room.

Make sure you can take advantage of the very latest and best tools by not getting locked into long contracts with suppliers that won’t integrate. Instead look for those that offer open APIs for your control room technology suite so you can ensure systems talk to each other and share information that could ultimately help save a life.

Record, analyse and share all possible data

Capturing non-urgent information – for example by using a Customer Relationship Management tool, like our Aspire solution – can help identify demand patterns and create non-crime evidence chains, which will help you plan for shifting dynamics in terms of resource, technology and more.

Understanding the population can inform resource planning, threats and opportunities – all of which supports improved demand management in the control room.

Proactively manage staff turnover

One of the biggest challenges is managing turnover in the control room.

With increasing demand often comes increasing pressure, which can make it more difficult to retain people with long-term operational knowledge and experience.

Celebrate your staff and work hard at employee engagement programmes to ensure mental health and wellbeing.

Download the Managing Demand whitepaper

Get your own copy for everything you need to know about demand in the control room – covering key drivers, contact channels and insight into the future.

Download yours at www.apdcomms.com/demand

Talk to us about managing demand in your control room

We develop innovative communications technologies for mission-critical control rooms around the world – for the police and fire services, international airports and major transportation hubs.

Our people are passionate about creating solutions that support and transform how our customers interact with and protect the public.

Get in touch if you’d like to know more – we’d be delighted to see how we can help.