The following great questions were asked during the recent APCO training Webcast on Public Safety Quality Assurance Best Practices and Tools. Please find below our answers for your review:
Quality Assurance Software Questions and Answers
Does the VPI QA system come with quality evaluation forms? If so, how would we customize them or add new ones?
Yes, VPI’s QA system is delivered with sample evaluation forms that have been developed based on best practices of our customers. These forms can be used as templates – you can modify, delete and add any number of questions, skills and sections. One or more questions can be associated with each skill – answers to those questions during the quality evaluation session are automatically aggregated for a total score for each skill. You can also create any number of new forms from a scratch, simply following intuitive graphical user interface.
Will the VPI QA software work in a situation where telecommunicators both call take and dispatch multiple, overlapping calls?
Yes, absolutely. The system does not just associate different forms to different telecommunicators. This form association is done based on the type of call taken and the type of work done. Naturally, you will have different criteria for dispatching vs. call taking – these requirements can be either combined in the same evaluation form yet still separated into sections (in a tabbed interface), or you can have different forms for each type of work, depending on specifics of your call flow. Concurrent, overlapping calls are recorded as separate audio/data files which can be then evaluated separately. With this said, you may also group multiple recordings (such as when evaluating the entire incident) into an “incident” collection that you save under a custom name and then this set of recordings can be evaluated with a single form that contains all needed sections or elements. In summary, VPI’s QA system is very flexible and adaptable to virtually any center and situation.
We are a small countywide dispatch center with only 6 fulltime personnel. Does the QA program scale well for small dispatch centers as well as for larger ones?
Yes. Agencies of all sizes should have a QA program in place. The per-seat pricing of the software allows for easy incremental scaling. Beyond that, since you create your own process, evaluation criteria and forms using VPI software interface, it is completely scalable and adaptable to your evolving needs.
How would multiple evaluators access this system on-site or off-site?
VPI’s QA system is browser based, which means that it does not require installation of any software at user workstations. It can be accessed by any number of authorized users via your LAN or WAN connection to your local Intranet or “private cloud”. Evaluators could even review and evaluate calls remotely from off-site locations, using secure remote connection such as VPN.
Since during the training phase you evaluate a trainees’ skills, knowledge and abilities, could this software serve as a type of DOR for the OJT Phase?
Yes. You can build in any evaluation form you wish. This would provide excellent documentation by allowing you to save the audio files to the evaluation for ease in future retrieval.
What audio recorder platforms can you work with?
VPI’s QA system can coexist with any full-time recording system, including the VPI Capture NG9-1-1 ready recording system. For public safety agencies that currently have an existing full-time recording system, the VPI Quality software bundle comes embedded with its own built-in quality recording module to record console audio for quality assurance purposes. All console audio is recorded and calls are then automatically selected using a business rule or manually selected for QA evaluation. If calls are not selected for quality evaluation within a period of time that you define, they are deleted to free up space to record future calls for quality evaluation. The quality assurance application and the quality recording element share the same the hardware platform.
What CADs can the VPI QA software integrate with?
VPI integrates with major CAD brands, including Tiburon, Intergraph and Tritech and provides a variety of integration options for any other CAD system as well. The CAD data is used for automated classification and visualization of recorded call taker and dispatcher calls and screens for fast evidence assembly and value-driven analysis – by incident types, numbers, severity, and/or other parameters. The integration is a passive, one-directional intgegration where we pull data from CAD systems and use it, but do not feed any data back to CAD.
Does the QA form software interface with Intergraph (or other) CAD systems? If so, in what way?
Yes, VPI’s QA evaluation system successfully integrates with Intergraph CAD. CAD data can optionally be captured and used to drive the selection of the most important calls for evaluation. Intergraph CAD (or any other CAD including TriTech, Tiburon, etc.) system provides incident data, such as incident type, ID, severity and the like. When this data is attached to relevant call recordings, it serves for classification of calls by incident types (or severity) which then helps with prioritization of recordings for review according to their significance or urgency. For example, your local requirement may be to evaluate ALL domestic violence calls, but only samples of other types of calls. The system can pull all domestic violence (or any other incident type per your setting) calls for evaluation and automatically attach the most relevant evaluation form to those calls, all of which is then served in the “to-do” list of assigned evaluator(s).
If you would like to/need to, can you still "hunt and peck" for calls?
Absolutely. You can set up the call selection for QA in any way you want. It can be a combination of calls that are selected automatically by a system rule that you define, calls that you select manually as needed, and even calls that may be flagged by dispatchers/call takers for review. Hunting and pecking for calls o be evaluated is really easy with VPI’s recording systems – either search by any number and combination of criteria (date/time, employee ID, call type, call length, radio ID, etc.) or you can simply respond to system reports and notifications of abnormal calls.
Is this a paperless system?
Yes, it can be completely paperless. All interfaces, forms and reports are electronic. Printing of any reports or details of QA evaluations is available but not required.
If our telephone system is on a separate server than our CAD system, can it all still be integrated?
Yes, we can pull data from multiple sources and attach it to appropriate recordings, enhancing the quality evaluation process as well as reporting on incidents in general.
What is the licensing model for the QA system - site license or by seat?
Pricing for licensing is by seat/position.
Coaching / E-Learning Questions and Answers
What is your definition of coaching? Is it formal training, simple discussion, notes on QA form or something different?
In general, coaching is a personalized learning process (or program) that provides timely support to employees. In some cases, coaching may be a short verbal conversation with personnel while reviewing the quality evaluation form. However, for documentation purposes, you want the majority of your coaching to have some written component that should effect a change in performance and behavior, and a quiz to ensure there is retention and that learning did take place.
Does the VPI QA software facilitate E-learning? Does it allow for the development of messages and quizzes with questions on e-learning and messages? Does it report on when the dispatcher has viewed and acted upon all of it?
Yes, the VPI Coaching software allows you to create business rules that will automatically deploy coaching assignments based upon scores to certain questions, skills or overall scores on the evaluation. You can also create quizzes and include them with training to confirm comprehension of conveyed information.
Any learning course can be associated with a quiz that is automatically started at the conclusion of the training content. Quiz results are included in the training report of each employee. Messages to call takers/dispatchers can be triggered based on a variety of events, such as specific QA scores, passing/failing scores in quizzes, and the like. You can set up the messages to require acknowledgement. Report / quiz / message assignments as well as their completion and acknowledgments (as appropriate for each) are listed in coaching reports that show dates and times associated with each action.
Can you tell if they actually read the document? Does it show how much time they had the document open?
Yes, this is a part of standard tracking of e-learning assignments. Coaching / E-Learning reports show dates and times of all content and messages sent to each dispatcher/call taker as well dates and times of when the content was accessed and completed. When SCORM compliant content is used, the system can also report on very granular details of the learning process, such as the amount of time that each employee takes with each quiz question, section of the coaching content, and the like. This will provide valuable hints regarding most common struggles that need additional attention.
Will the coaching sample be the same across the board or will it change depending on the situation?
Coaching assignments should fit the situation. Some errors are generic, such as talking too rapidly, and that type of learning content could be prepared and used for all call takers. You may design a variety of other learning modules and associate them to evaluation questions or skills, so that they are automatically selected when ratings in various areas do not reach desired minimums. Each employee would then receive a different collection of learning modules, according to their specific knowledge or skill gaps. In addition to this, other coaching materials may need to be created when warranted, in the form of a Personal Improvement Plan (PIP) to address specific, individual performance deficiencies that cannot be addressed with generic content.
Do we create the coaching or do you all create the coaching session? Are the coaching and learning assignments pre-made or is it something that needs to be developed by the PSAP?
Training managers or supervisors select content from a variety of resources (APCO, your own recorded calls that show best practices, specific cases posted on-line, etc.) and add custom-designed content that reflects your specific policies and requirements. The VPI software then takes care of automated (and also manual, when desired) assignments of coaching content to individuals in your PSAP center, as well as tracking of coaching status and resulting improvements.
Can we use our own recordings for coaching purposes?
Yes, absolutely. Any standards-based files can be used, to include recordings from your logger. When recordings are captured by VPI systems, you receive an interface for redaction of sensitive sections of call and screen recordings. You can also add notations (such as to clarify why various sections of the call were or were not handled properly) and pop-up messages to maximize the learning experience. These customized, modified recordings are saved as copies in order to protect the integrity of original recordings.