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The hidden intelligence behind speech recognition technology

Nuance’s speech recognition solution uses law enforcement lingo, adapts to accents and reduces noise to help officers create incident reports with accuracy, speed and safety


Nuance’s Dragon Law Enforcement lets officers keep their eyes up while reporting.


Sponsored by Nuance Communications

By Cindy Coleman for Police1 BrandFocus

It has become commonplace for us to talk to a virtual assistant like Alexa or Siri and ask them to play music, find a restaurant or give us the day’s weather forecast. With just our voices, we are able to launch information-gathering capabilities in our phones and smart devices at incomprehensible speeds. The advances in computing power, artificial intelligence and data processing that make this possible in our personal lives are also powering speech recognition solutions that help law enforcement complete reports with greater efficiency, accuracy, speed and safety.

The hidden intelligence behind speech recognition solutions such as Nuance Dragon Law Enforcement supports custom vocabulary and commands, adapts to accents, optimizes for noisy environments and offers fast, accurate dictation into RMS systems.

Software that understands law enforcement lingo

With a next-generation speech engine powered by Nuance deep learning technology, Dragon Law Enforcement is built with a language model and dataset that includes words and phrases specific to law enforcement. In addition to professional terminology, Dragon recognizes more than 400 words of profanity.

“Unfortunately, profanity is something police officers have to hear every day,” says Eric La Scola, product marketing manager for Nuance Communications. “Because officers have to include it as part of their field incident reporting, these terms were included in our customized version of Dragon speech recognition, Dragon Law Enforcement.”

Makes and models of cars and trucks are also built into Dragon’s vocabulary so that if an officer pulls over a 1992 Toyota Camry, Dragon understands that. If the officer asks for the person’s ID and that person has a driver’s license from a Canadian province or Mexican city and state, Dragon will recognize that as well.

Robust voice command capabilities also simplify the process of looking up license plates. Police officers typically speak in the NATO phonetic alphabet: alpha, bravo, Charlie, delta, echo, foxtrot, etc. so Dragon recognizes that. If an officer on patrol comes across a suspicious looking vehicle and decides to run a license plate, the officer can say “whiskey tango delta 1 2 3 4” and Dragon will automatically populate that as “WTD1234.” This way, the officer stays heads up with eyes on his or her surroundings, increasing safety and improving in-car documentation.

Optimized for noisy environments

Whether in the patrol car or at the station, background noise can interfere with the quality of dictation and thus the accuracy of a report. Dragon includes the option of using a PowerMic III with noise-canceling technology that cancels out background noise. The microphone, which doubles as a handheld mouse, also has push-to-talk capability so a simple press on the microphone button starts the recording. As soon as the button is released, the recording stops. “For a cop, the idea of manually depressing the microphone button is something they’re accustomed to with radio push-to-talk,” says La Scola. “There’s a comfort in knowing when you release that button Dragon is no longer listening.”

Adapt to a speaker’s speech patterns and accent

As part of the powerful “behind the scenes” intelligence, speech recognition solutions can learn how a person speaks and adapt to a variety of accents. When a person launches Dragon, it will ask “Do you have an accent?” The software has a language model that accommodates a wide range of accents based on native language and region. There is also an option for Dragon to scan a person’s email and Word documents so it can learn how the officer structures sentences as well as common words or phrases he or she might use. These two options allow Dragon to learn how an officer speaks and then make appropriate adjustments that minimize the need for corrections while the officer is dictating reports.

Store customized commands

Is there an unusual street name that keeps coming up in department incident reports? Dragon allows departments to store custom words to the software’s vocabulary via a central management center. Once added to the vocabulary, the street name can be pushed out to all officer profiles at one time instead of individually. Dragon also allows a department to set up custom forms and push the forms out to the entire organization. The forms may then be filled in by voice commands such as “next or previous field.”

Use computing power to enhance efficiency, speed and safety

With a combination of computing power, artificial intelligence and data processing, speech recognition solutions such as Dragon Law Enforcement are empowering departments with leading-edge technology. By simply speaking, officers can dictate into RMS and CAD systems to create incident reports three times faster than typing with up to 99 percent recognition accuracy. The outcome is increased efficiency, speed and safety, giving officers more time to serve and engage with members of their community.