University police dispatch adds text, translation capabilities

· 3 min read

University police dispatch adds text, translation capabilities

With new technology, center joins Next Generation 911 implementation
photo of the new dispatch center
Craig Chandler University Communication and Marketing

The campus community now has an additional way to reach the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Police Department when in need of assistance.

UNLPD dispatch incorporated Convey911 technology on Jan. 2, which allows users to text 402-472-5552 for help in both emergency and non-emergency situations. The cloud-based Convey911 also offers translation capabilities for more than 170 languages, GPS location and camera/video sharing.

Sara Haake, dispatch director, said the new technology increases access in two important ways.

“We have an international community here, and when you need help or you’re stressed, you are most likely more comfortable using your native language,” Haake said. “We had a gap in serving that population, and we wanted to address it. We also wanted to have a second mode of timely communication. You might have a question or a need and are unsure if calling the police department is the right solution. Now, you can send us a text. I’m hopeful that will encourage more on campus to feel comfortable reaching out to us for assistance.”

Haake began looking at texting technology options a couple years ago after discussions with colleagues near and far about Next Generation 911 — the ongoing implementation across the United States of a digital internet protocol-based system that is replacing the original analog 911 system. The goal of Next Generation 911 implementation is to have every Public Safety Answering Point able to deliver and receive voice, video, text and data “calls.”

The addition of Convey911 takes the university’s dispatch center into the “next generation,” with these key features:

  • Bi-directional real-time language translation in 170-plus languages
  • Patent-protected technology
  • NG911 Platform compatibility
  • No app installation is required; messages are sent via a secure interface
  • Real-time location and people-finding capabilities
  • Cloud agnostic, ensuring seamless integration with existing systems

To use this new service, send a text to 402-472-5552. Users will receive an immediate response in the language they texted in. The translation happens in real time through the cloud-based system. Depending on the situation, Haake said dispatchers can ask users to share their GPS location and/or video so the dispatcher can assess and assist.

“For example, if someone is lost on campus, they can text us, we’ll ask them to share their location with us, and we’ll be able to point them in the right direction,” Haake said.

UNLPD officials researched many ways to implement text messaging into the dispatch center’s capabilities. Haake said there are now numerous companies offering services for this technology and that Convey911 was chosen for its language translation utilities and because it is an easy-to-use service for the campus community.

“This breakthrough technology eliminates any burden on our community to purchase an app or sign up for the service,” Haake said. “You use your cellphone to send a text and that’s it.”

In an emergency, UNLPD recommends dialing 911. Campus dispatchers can also be reached by calling 402-472-2222, or 2-2222 on campus lines.

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