The growth in mobile phone use has caused a problem for the emergency services with thousands of users inadvertently calling 999, either by keying the numbers or pressing the emergency button on their mobiles accidentally.
Out of the 10,000 calls that the Metropolitan Police receive each day, as many as 2,500 are from 'silent mobiles'. These unintentional calls use up valuable operator time and cost the taxpayer millions of pounds.
This is no longer a problem, however, thanks to a simple and elegant system called Silent Solution, devised by converged communications company Damovo.
The system routes calls to a specially designed auto-attendant system that establishes whether they are unintentional calls or genuine emergencies.
To achieve this, Damovo had to write a series of scripts for the Rockwell Spectrum ACD system installed at New Scotland Yard, where all emergency calls are received.
The scripts enable operators to re-route any silent calls to the auto-attendant system, which asks callers to key 55 if the call is genuine. If there is a response, the call is immediately routed back to the emergency operators.
Previously, the operator would have to ensure that there was no one on the line before they could abandon a call. Calls made from land lines can be located though the telephone network, so these could be checked.
But mobile calls could be coming from anywhere within a kilometre radius around a cell location and, even though most 999 calls from mobiles are made unintentionally, calls still needed to be held long enough to make sure there was no genuine emergency.
The Metropolitan Police needed to make no additional investment to introduce the new system and its impact was dramatic.
Since it was installed, the system has been extended so that silent calls from all over the UK are routed to the Silent Solution system at New Scotland Yard.
Inspector Paul Roach of the Metropolitan Police said: "Everyone is a winner with this system. We have lost a fifth of our calls.
"That means we no longer have to spend time on the silent ones and we are better able to deal with the real emergencies."
Damovo's contribution to achieving these benefits has been exceptional, according to Roach. "It was a real team effort. There was no cost involved because we already had the capacity to do this. When we switched it on, it just worked," he said.
Jim Watson, Damovo's Metropolitan Police and emergency services manager, explained that the system is saving the police about £16m a year in lost time, and is helping genuine emergency calls to get through faster.
He added that while the solution is simple, not everyone would have come up with the idea.
"We were using equipment that they already had so the cost to them was zero. It was simply a matter of being smarter with the equipment and making use of its versatility by having a thorough understanding of its capabilities," he said.
Paul Briggs, editor of Computer Reseller News, suggested that Damovo's win is a further reflection of how the two worlds of IT and voice are coming together.
"Thoroughbred ACD systems like the Rockwell Spectrum now have real convergence capabilities and service providers like Damovo are increasingly crossing over into the data market," he said.
"At the same time, traditional IT resellers are bridging the gap between the worlds of voice and data by developing new skills and embracing new ideas. The coming year is going to be a very exciting time in the converged market."
HOW TO WIN AN INNOVATOR AWARD
The CRN/Syscap Approved Technology Innovator of the Month awards are sponsored by technology financing company Syscap and backed by Computing and CRN.
The 11 monthly winners selected by the judging panel will be short-listed for two annual awards, one for a project for the public sector and one for the private sector.
Winners, which are profiled in both CRN and Computing, receive a trophy, a wall plaque and marketing materials which they can use to promote their winning product.
To enter for the award resellers, or their customers, should fill in the online entry form which they will find at www.technology-innovator.co.uk.
You can also request a postal entry form by calling Lisa Glover on (020) 7316 9000 or sending an email to [email protected].
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