Resource Elasticity in Emergency Communications Centers
By Andrea King-Smith, Strategic CSM, Customer Engagement Lead
In a 9-1-1 center, managing resources and workforce is crucial to ensure that emergency services are delivered effectively and efficiently. However, emergencies and major incidents can occur at any time, requiring the need to scale resources up or down to handle the situation adequately. This is why having the ability to scale your workforce and resources is essential to ensure that emergency services can be provided in a timely and effective manner.
There are several reasons why it is important to be able to scale your workforce and resources up and down during major incidents:
Handling high call volumes: During major incidents, call volumes can increase significantly. For instance, during a natural disaster or an active shooter event, the number of people calling 9-1-1 can overwhelm the resources of the call center. If the center is not prepared to handle such situations, it can result in longer wait times, delayed response times, and ultimately, compromised emergency services. In the post-pandemic world we now live in, hybrid and remote workforces are becoming increasingly popular for reasons beyond convenience. By being able to quickly add additional resources to its workforce, via a hybrid or remote cloud-based infrastructure, the center can handle the surge in call volumes effectively and ensure that emergency services are delivered in a timely manner.
Maintaining service levels: Often during major incidents, 911 centers experience challenges with maintaining their service levels to ensure that emergency services are delivered without compromise. There’s also no shortage of other unrelated calls that continue to come into the 911 center during the major incident. The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) sets standards and recommendations for processing 9-1-1 calls received by a 9-1-1 center. As the NENA standard directs, 90% of all 9-1-1 calls should be answered within 15 seconds. It is difficult to meet and maintain this level of service during major incidents with an extreme influx of calls. By adopting technology that allows calls to be triaged prior to being presented to an agent, the center can ensure the most priority calls, related and unrelated to the incident, are handled in a timely and effective manner. This helps to prevent degradation in the services 911 centers provide.
Providing specialized services: Major incidents can require specialized services that may not be available within the center’s existing workforce. For instance, during a hazardous material spill, the center may require the assistance of environmental specialists to assess the damage and recommend cleanup procedures. This may require deploying dispatch personnel to an emergency operations center, which would impact the resources available within the 911 center. By utilizing technology that handles timely emergency alerts and mass notifications, the center can remotely interact with specialized personnel that are necessary to handle the situation effectively.
Cost savings: Scaling up or down resources and workforce can help optimize costs. For instance, during major incidents, the center can scale up its resources and workforce to handle the situation effectively without having to invest in additional resources that may not be required in the long term. They can then scale down its resources and workforce during periods of low call volumes to save costs.
To achieve these benefits, it is essential to have a flexible workforce and resource management plan in place. This plan should include strategies for scaling up or down resources and workforce as per the situation’s demands. Here are a few strategies that can help:
Cross-training: Cross-training employees in different roles can help ensure that they can perform multiple tasks during a major incident. For instance, a call taker can also be trained to dispatch emergency services or provide technical support to field personnel. This can help ensure that the center can handle the situation effectively without having to bring in additional resources.
Technology: Technology can play a vital role in scaling up or down resources and workforce. We discussed a few already, such as hybrid and remote workforces through use of cloud technology and call triaging technology. Similarly, resource management software can help optimize the allocation of resources based on the situation’s demands.
Collaboration: Collaboration with other agencies and emergency services providers can help ensure that the center has access to additional resources as required. For instance, during a major incident, the center can collaborate with neighboring call centers or other emergency services providers to bring in additional resources to handle the situation effectively.
Being able to scale your workforce and resources up and down in a 9-1-1 center is essential to ensure that emergency services are delivered effectively and efficiently. By having a flexible workforce and resource management plan in place and utilizing technology that promotes optimization of workflows, call centers can handle major incidents effectively without compromising on service levels. This can help ensure that emergency services are delivered in a timely and effective manner, ultimately saving lives.
Carbyne (Headquartered in New York, NY) is a leading global provider of cloud-native mission-critical contact center solutions. Carbyne is one of the largest rich-data providers for emergency response centers, delivering over 250M data points per year all in a unified platform. Our technologies enable emergency contact centers and select enterprises to connect with callers as well as connected devices via highly secure communication channels without needing to download a consumer app. With a mission to redefine emergency collaboration and connect the dots between people, enterprises and governments, Carbyne provides a unified cloud native solution that provides live actionable data that can lead to more efficient and transparent operations and ultimately save lives. With Carbyne, every person counts.