Sunday, October 16, 2011

Emergency centre taking more than 50,000 calls a day

The Nation October 17, 2011 8:03 am
Emergency centre taking more than 50,000 calls a day

The government's call centre-1111 press 5 was only set up a week ago at the Flood Relief Operation Centre (FROC), but is now handling 50,000 to 60,000 calls a day, mainly for immediate help from state agencies and authorities.

The call centre provides the core data for FROC to manage and monitor the flood situation as well as to offer rapid help to flood victims. The hotline service is driven by a collaboration of all mobile operators, Advance Info Service, Dtac, and TrueMove, plus TOT Corporation.
The four organisations have 400 reception agents working at the tier-1 centre to receive calls via 1111 press 5. It received 40,000 calls a day initially, but this has increased to between 50,000 and 60,000 calls a day now.

The agents answer basic questions and learn which areas need help or are asking for evacuations - such as what streets are closed, what areas are to be watched and prepared for evacuation, as well as locations that need help with evacuations and food supply.

Arpattra Sringkarrinkul, who is in charge of FROC's call centre, said about 80 per cent of incoming calls were resolved and completed at the tier-1 call centre.

Only 20 per cent were passed to the tier-2 call centre at FROC at Don Mueang, which has around 70 people manning phones. They are officers from organisations such as the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, Metropolitan Electric Authority and Department of Highway, who take care of the calls.

"Tier-1 call centre has 400 agents from AIS, Dtac, True, and TOT Corporation, who answer calls at their sites. These agents can access the FROC's database for information of flood areas and update-status of streets and highways. If people need more specific information, their calls are passed to the tier-2 call centre," Arpattra said.

Officials at the tier-2 call centre are from organisations involved in flood relief. Their priorities are human life, evacuation, and health emergencies.

"If the calls are from the most severe flood situations, such as Ayutthaya, Nakhon Sawan, and Lop Buri, they are passed to the military. If they are asking for food, water, boats, restrooms, and so on, the calls will be passed to the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, [or] Ministry of Interior.

"We are now adding location-based features on to the calls, by working with the Provincial Electric Authority (PEA) to plot the exact location of calls to identify their origin. This helps authorities reach them more quickly. For example, we received a call one night from Ayutthaya. We passed the information to the relevant rescue organisation, and they helped bring a 100-year-old grandmother out from her flooded house in time."

Arpattra said the call centre's IT system and teams were working round the clock to offer flood relief services as efficiently as they can.

She said a call centre system usually needed to be tested for months before it could work well. For the current emergency, call centre-1111 was performing well, but it wasn't 100 per cent.

She said that with clear directions from the PM and Information and Communication Technology Minister, the call centre integrates both private and government organisations. This collaboration helped the call 1111-centre's system to be set up and running at short notice.

"All authorities give us feedback from their operations which is sent to a database to check the progress of cases. An outbound call centre also calls and monitors victims to check on who has called in."

Arpattra has 30-years' experience in technology and telecoms and was an IBM system engineer and ex-AIS' chief information officer. She has contacts with many private IT and telecom firms.
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