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Nuance Communications markets speech recognition software designed for police patrols

By Steve Bittenbender
Editor, Government Security News

A Massachusetts firm that develops voice and language technology solutions has found a new market for its speech recognition platform: law enforcement agencies.

On Wednesday, Nuance Communications unveiled the latest version of Dragon Law Enforcement, which allows police officers to create and update their reports using the company’s voice-to-text technology. While Dragon speech recognition software has been around for about 20 years, the company spent significant time in developing DLE to ensure it accurately captured police jargon.

Rick Brown, a senior director of product management at Nuance, said that modern police cruisers serve as mobile offices, with officers having numerous devices available to them within reach. However, because of the compact design of the car’s interior, it can put the officer in an uncomfortable position, literally, if they’re trying to fill out documentation.

Brown noted that many officers have to turn 45 degrees in the driver’s seat in order to use a laptop. That means an officer’s weapon could be sandwiched between the seatback and the officer’s hip, and that can lead to physical discomfort for the officer.

“They’ve been looking for better ways to use that technology,” Brown said.

Brown and Greg Katz, a lieutenant with the Billerica Police Department in Massachusetts, added that the speech recognition software also provides another benefit by allowing the officer to keep his eyes on the road or their surroundings.

“Our officers have a significant responsibility to keep our community safe, but also face administrative responsibilities such as incident reporting, which requires a quick turnaround and ample detail,” Katz said. “Reporting serves an important role with documentation, but the quality of the reporting also reflects on our personnel and agency. Dragon allows officers to quickly dictate reports while safely maintaining their situational awareness in their patrol cars.

Brown said DLE works with a wide variety of documentation programs to assist officers in drafting incident and accident reports as well as citations. Officers can also use DLE to pull up license plate checks while they’re on the road as the software was designed to interpret the NATO phonetic language into letters.

Methuen, MA Police Chief Joseph Solomon said the Nuance solution has expedited the lookup process for his patrol officers.

"Our officers can simply speak plate details and within seconds, plate registration and ownership details are on the screen. Once our officers used it, they didn't want to give it up," Solomon said. “Additionally, this is one of the greatest officer safety tools to come along in years.”

DLE also accommodates for multiple users within the same vehicle, which Brown noted is helpful for police agencies as two or three officers may share a vehicle. Nuance’s Deep Learning Technology enables the software to learn and adapt to individual accents as it creates the text.

“Dragon Law Enforcement provides a faster and more efficient way to document incidents, a safer way to conduct common lookups, and is a viable solution for improving focus and situational awareness in this high-demand, in-field job,” said Mark Geremia, a Nuance vice president and Dragon’s general manager. “When all is said and done, armed with Dragon Law Enforcement, the focus shifts from paperwork to protecting and serving the public.”

For more information about DLE, visit:


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