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Is that 911 call a real emergency? Emotion detector made for call centers

Date:
March 22, 2011
Source:
Inderscience
Summary:
A system for emergency call centers that can assess a caller's stress levels or emotional state, and hence the urgency of the call, could reduce the impact of any given crisis and improve the emergency response. Scientists have now just developed one.

A system for emergency call centres that can assess a caller's stress levels or emotional state, and hence the urgency of the call, could reduce the impact of any given crisis and improve the emergency response. A team in The Netherlands reports just such an automatic emotion-detecting system in this month's International Journal of Intelligent Defence Support Systems.

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Iulia Lefter of Delft University of Technology and colleagues at the Netherlands Defence Academy and TNO Defence, Security and Safety, explain how emergency call centres are commonly overwhelmed by the sheer number of calls, especially during disaster situations or other national emergencies. A system that could distinguish automatically between a seriously urgent call and a more mundane issue could reduce the burden considerably and allow calls to be prioritised more effectively.

"Stress and negative emotions, in general, have a strong influence on voice characteristics," the researchers explain. "Because speech is a natural means of communication, we can utilise the sound patterns of speech to detect stress and (negative) emotions in a non-intrusive way by monitoring the communication." Factors such as how quickly a person is talking, whether or not there are rises and falls in pitch and tone and breathing rate, all change when we are stressed and can be detected.

The team has now "trained" a computer algorithm that receives audio input from emergency calls to assess the emotive level of the callers' speech. Four different training techniques were used with recordings from actual emergencies of known outcome and the team says their error rates are as low as 4.2% for a database of call centre recordings used in the research. Optimisation of the algorithm using a larger training set and more robust statistical tools might improve that still further.

The researchers expect the system to have military applications in the first instance. However, it could be adapted to the civilian emergency services and perhaps other applications, such as criminal investigations.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Inderscience. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Iulia Lefter et al. Automatic stress detection in emergency (telephone) calls. Int. J. Intelligent Defence Support Systems, 2011, 4, 148-168

Cite This Page:

Inderscience. "Is that 911 call a real emergency? Emotion detector made for call centers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110321093845.htm>.
Inderscience. (2011, March 22). Is that 911 call a real emergency? Emotion detector made for call centers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110321093845.htm
Inderscience. "Is that 911 call a real emergency? Emotion detector made for call centers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110321093845.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

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