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System Measures Stress In Emergency Callers' Voice 238

cylonlover writes "Chances are that if you're calling 9-1-1 (or 9-9-9, or whatever it is where you are), you're not likely to tell the operator that your case isn't all that urgent, and that it can wait. The problem is, sometimes emergency dispatch centers are so overloaded with callers – all of them stating that they need assistance right now – that some sort of system is required in order to determine who should get help first. Dutch researchers claim to have developed just such a system, which analyzes callers' voices to determine how stressed-out they are."
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System Measures Stress In Emergency Callers' Voice

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @08:55AM (#35571066)
    Afghani freedom fighters organise a denial-of-service attack by playing back Frodo in the Lord of the Rings to the telephone.
    • AT&T testing this new technology:
      CSR: (painfully upbeat) Thank you for calling AT&T! How may I improve your life today?
      Caller: (almost panicked) Argh! I'm a T-Mobile customer and I just found out that AT&T bought T-Mobile! Aaagh!
      CSR: (calming) Don't worry. During the transition period all T-Mobile customers will be receiving the same high quality customer service and cell coverage that all our AT&T customers receive.
      Caller: (fanatic) Aagh! That's what I was afraid of!!
  • Calibration? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @08:55AM (#35571072)

    How well does this thing work with child callers, or those with developmental disabilities who do not respond 'normally' to emergency situations?

    • Re:Calibration? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by warp_kez ( 711090 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @08:58AM (#35571112)

      Or those who have been in "these" situations before and now how to go about the call calmly.

      • by C_amiga_fan ( 1960858 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @09:10AM (#35571260)

        Or those who just don't give a fuck. "Yeah my asshole husband who beats me had a heart attack, and lost consciousness. (yawn). We live at 10 main street. Please hurry. Or not. Whatever."

        This sounds like the Dutch are "rationing" their healthcare. What they should be doing is the same thing the ISPs should be doing - laying more lines (and people) to handle the load, rather than capping service.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @09:35AM (#35571624)

          I'm getting tired of this trope, especially as it's used as keyword to get immediate panic reflex.

          The fact is, in any given society, resources for healthcare will be limited, and generally smaller than what is perceived as necessary by the public.
          This will automatically cause a need for prioritizing, as some medical threats are more immediate than others, and should be treated first.
          These researchers have been looking into a way for making that more effective. However, it has not been implemented! So 'the Dutch' aren't doing anything here.
          Given that waiting lists have been exceedingly long in NL for quite some time now, not due to lack of funding per se, but lack of trained personnel, it's also more than a little irrelevant.

          Lastly, I'm just going to assume you live in the U.S.A here, since you're using the rationing healthcare rhetoric. May I remind you that this is done on a large scale in your country already? Only in your case, it isn't rationed based on need, as any decent person would want, but based on how much money you have. Yes you can, in a few select places in the U.S.A, get the best possible healthcare, but only if you have the enormous amounts of money that's asked for it. Normal people have to do with less healthcare than any given Dutch person gets, for much more. Rationing is not so much our problem, as yours.

        • Re:Calibration? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @09:52AM (#35571922)

          "This sounds like the Dutch are "rationing" their healthcare."

          Yep, first the heart attacks and aneurysms, then the teens who started fireworks from their ass.

      • Re:Calibration? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jawnn ( 445279 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @09:14AM (#35571320)
        Exactly right. This sounds like a bad idea, in that it automatically penalizes those who, by virtue of training, experience, or simply an abundance of mellowness, don't present the physiological response this system is designed to detect. Conversely, it rewards those who are wound too tight or who have simply led very sheltered lives and are completely undone when the water heater starts to leak.
        Cool technology, totally misapplied.
        • Re:Calibration? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by TaoPhoenix ( 980487 ) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @10:23AM (#35572420) Journal

          I'll risk a Redundant by tagging off of your great comment.

          Wouldn't this penalize ALL military/ex personnel? "Hello - yes - this is Daniel Johnson of 16380 Main St and we have a situation. My son ripped his whole leg open on some metal debris out in public land that was apparently dumped in violation. Please send a blood trauma crew."


          "Oh my gawd my kid got a nail in his leg after some goddamn moron left a bunch of crap out in the field. Do you think he'll die from tetnus????"

        • Keep your cool, don't panic.

          After all this technology doesn't work.

          This has been debunked so many times.

          Of course using it for emergency calls is even stupider that the previous snake-oil, using it to detect benefits cheats.

        • It does not take into account 3rd party callers either. For example, I'm driving along and see a horrible accident right in front of me.

          I call in, calmly describe the detached body part in the road, the 5 cars involved, and the blood on the pavement. Then compare it to the guy who lost the blood or the finger or whatever calling in completely hysterical.

          Same situation, one person much calmer than the other. It is a common occurrence. Ditto friend vs spouse or parent or child.

          Definitely cool technology, b

      • Re:Calibration? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Rakshasa Taisab ( 244699 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @09:17AM (#35571362) Homepage
        Yeah... Hysterical people now get better emergency aid than those of us who manage to remain calm in stressful situations?
      • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

        That was my first thought. Not even just people who have "been in these situations" but, anyone who keeps their head calm in a situation.

        A couple of years back I had a case of walking pneumonia (clearly, I didn't know, hence 'walking'). One night, after poker, while hanging out with some friends, I coughed and covered my face with my hands. As I pulled my hands away from my face, I saw them absolutely covered in blood.

        Everyone around me freaked. I just calmly got up, and started getting ready to go to the h

        • I think saying "I coughed up a load of blood into my hands" is probably enough of a clue to an emergency response .. uh.. technician that you need urgent help.

          • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

            One would hope. Of course, I didn't call 911, I got a ride from someone who was there.

            However, if the situation isn't that cut and dry, then what?

            My friend fell, his arm is clearly broken but, I am worried that his neck might be too. Is this system going to notice a lack of stress and assume I must be bluffing about his neck to get faster service?

            • You're supposed lack of emotional response would likely fit the same profile that someone suffering shock would. So long as they took the "in shock" possibility into account, and it did put you there, you'd probably be raised to the higher priorities.

              Think about it.

              Legitimate calls would sound stressed or null.
              Fake calls would sound excited/nervous/amused.

              Incidentally, hypochondriacs would also sound stressed.... so I don't see the help there.

    • by dov_0 ( 1438253 )

      How well does this thing work with child callers, or those with developmental disabilities who do not respond 'normally' to emergency situations?

      Or how does it work with people who just don't flip out easily? As an ex firefighter, I don't stress out easily. Panicking or stressing out is for AFTER the emergency when you have time. When I have to make an emergency call, I'm not enormously stressed at all - I'm just focusing on getting across the required information as clearly as possible.

      • by green1 ( 322787 )

        exactly the same problem I have, I work on an ambulance, I'm used to seeing and dealing with all sorts of patients in all sorts of conditions from "just fine" to "oh my god!"

        When I've called 911 when not working (and I've had to do so on quite a few occasions, usually while volunteering my first aid services) I've already confused some dispatchers by being too calm. I explain the situation, the measures that have been taken, and the resources I need. All without panicking I've certainly heard a few dispatch

    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      Or the roughly 10% of the population with deep voices, who already have problems enough as is with automated voice systems?

  • Overt Reactions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pinkushun ( 1467193 ) * on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @08:56AM (#35571078) Journal

    I had a girlfriend who's mom would freak out at the most silly things, and not so silly too, accentuating her voice to make this overtly apparent.

    Should have seen her when I accidentally ran over her cat. Very unfortunate, and people react very different in panicked, or life threatening, situations.

    I wonder how well this detection will hold up, 4% margin of error seems quite low.

    • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

      That was my first reaction as well. They arn't clear on whether that error rare is the systems ability to recognize voice stress, or the corrolation of voice stress to emergency severity.

      We all know people who fall apart when something goes wrong... and we (or at least I) know people who could calmly tell the operator that they have cut their leg off with a chainsaw and would greatly appreciate it if someone could come down and give them a hand.

      And then there are children, who can react in an even wider var

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        people who could calmly tell the operator that they have cut their leg off with a chainsaw and would greatly appreciate it if someone could come down and give them a hand.

        Why on earth would you want a HAND when it's the LEG that's cut off?

        • Hey, if I could trade a leg for a third hand, I'd give it some serious consideration. Sure, I'd have to recharge the wheel-chair every night and keep a crutch around, but boy would it make soldering easier!
      • by sznupi ( 719324 )

        people who could calmly tell the operator that they have cut their leg off with a chainsaw

        Most likely because they are drifting away from blood loss (if they even managed to keep consciousness that long)

        • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

          Good reason to always carry clotting powder/clotting bandages with you when using chainsaws/axes/powerful sharp spinning things of any kind. If you don't pass out you might actually survive. Never been in the situation so don't know how I'd react... as tough as I like to think I am I'd probably just scream a lot and bleed to death.

          But yeah, that was a fairly extreme example.. I suspect it would be fairly difficult to actually amputate a limb with a modern chainsaw anyway. A deep cut, sure, but I imagine by

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I had a girlfriend who's mom would freak out at the most silly things, and not so silly too, accentuating her voice to make this overtly apparent.

      You modded him Troll? wtf???

      Mod him up, I was going to post the same thing.

      There are people that are just HORRIBLY unable to maintain
      themselves at the least bit of stress.

      I remember running to shrill blood curdling screams to find
      out the person screaming was upset at something very trivial.
      Like literally spilled (milk) liquid.

      I've broken up with someone because their reaction level
      to minor issues was off the chart and I figured in a LTR
      I would be at a major disadvantage if I was any further
      than driving dist

    • Should have seen her when I accidentally ran over her cat.

      Why don't you detail the value system you want to impose on others so we can learn from you how serious we should or shouldn't find that?

      • FYI, I didn't interpret that as included in one of the "most silly" things.

        It is interesting to imagine someone who flips out at the littlest things reacting to something that serious though. What level is there left to go up to when you go batshit crazy at having too big of a clothes pile to wash?

        • I don't think that someone who panics at something small necessarily collapses completely at something very big. If I "lose it" in any way, it is at myself after intense thought, and never in an emergency situation. In the midst of some serious event, especially involving others, I seem to be fairly composed, though alert. This seems to be the body acting on spec.

          Part of the problem is - and I admit my response above was slightly knee-jerk trollish to a trollish post - people having an opinion on what other

          • I get your point about driving responsibility, I did my UK "Advanced Driving" course/test a couple of years ago, but it's a bit harsh to suggest that the guy could have foreseen running over his gf's cat. Even if he checked under and around the car, if the cat was hiding in a bush, and happened to get spooked as he was moving down the driveway at 3mph, he could run it over without ever actually seeing it. There are some things that are truly unavoidable, though I'd say they're less than 1% of all driving "i

    • Should have seen her when I accidentally ran over her cat.

      While I'm willing to concede that maybe she was a little excitable, I'm pretty sure if you run over most people's pet they're going to have a pretty big stress reaction ... that doesn't seem like a very fair example. :-P

    • I had a girlfriend who's mom would freak out at the most silly things . . .Should have seen her when I accidentally ran over her cat.

      Well, replace the word "accidentally" with "repeatedly" and the word "cat" with "daughter".

    • by Inda ( 580031 )
      Well done my new cat killing friend! One down, many to go!
  • Nice, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ArAgost ( 853804 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @08:56AM (#35571080) Homepage
    This is very nice from the signal analysis perspective, but the implication that emergency call may be delayed if the caller is not stressed is a bad idea
    • This is very nice from the signal analysis perspective, but the implication that emergency call may be delayed if the caller is not stressed is a bad idea

      I was kind of thinking the same thing ... if the person making the call is an off-duty first-responder, you would expect them to know exactly what they need, but have less stress in their voice because they're better trained.

      Delaying your response because someone is cool under pressure might actually cause some new problems.

    • Yes, this seems like a textbook case of putting the cart before the horse (or rather, making sure you have the *best* anti-virus software for Windows on your voting machine). You should prioritize emergencies according to a pre-specified ranking of what's most urgent, and have the 911 operators learn this and dispatch based on it.

      You certainly don't want to prioritize a woman *panicking* about how they served her a bad burger (see the "worst 911 calls" compilations sometimes), over a retired EMT who is abl

  • Stress != Urgency (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Greymalkin99 ( 1990878 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @08:56AM (#35571084)
    How well people deal with emergency situations varies hugely. This system would prioritise a 5 year old ringing about a huge splinter she just got over a military veteran reporting a 3 car pileup with limbs everywhere. Can't beat human judgement in a job as important as this.
    • by Onuma ( 947856 )
      Heh...that made me think of a giant junkyard construct with numerous metallic tentacle-limbs.

      And what if it's a child vampire, a la "Interview..." ?

      I agree though. Guys like me are not likely to stress over stuff, but people who haven't experienced chaos & carnage are more likely to freak out.
    • Perhaps other information can be gathered... "Welcome to 911! Please type in the number of people requiring emergency services, followed by the pound symbol."

      What other questions are there? "Please enter how many minutes you estimate the person has left."

      "For ambulance, press 1, for fire, press 2. For police, press 3.".

      • Re:Stress != Urgency (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Abstrackt ( 609015 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @09:59AM (#35572034)

        You know, that'd be faster than any 911 call I've made recently....

        911 op: "911, what's your emergency?"
        Me: "A half-ton truck just rear-ended an ammonia trailer, flipped over into the ditch and the occupant is bleeding profusely. I can't remove him from the vehicle. My location is Road 19W on the highway, just east of the exit to (whatever town it was)."
        911 op: "Okie, let me just type that in here for a sec... (pause) ...there! So, I'm going to connect you with the local police department."

        Cue the introductions, me explaining the whole bloody thing again, giving the location again, followed by giving directions because they don't understand the addressing system that was actually put in place to make it easier for emergency responders to find places in just such a situation.

        I miss the gold old days when calling 911 meant you were talking to someone was located in the general area of the city and surrounding roads, not someone in a call center on the other end of the country.

    • by sznupi ( 719324 )
      Curious how /. seems to be almost united in hysteria (ironically...) about the idea.

      First, how do you know the system would fail in the way you describe? What gives you so strong belief in the human judgement capabilities? [*] Seriously, look at the list of cognitive biases if you have any doubt how poor grip on ourselves we have, on what's "obvious" (especially in time-limited situations, when our brains do a lot of guessing, a lot of "usually good enough" decisions) Then consider that those designing t
  • by Anrego ( 830717 ) * on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @08:57AM (#35571098)

    However, the stress in the callers voice may not indicate the severity of the emergency.

    Some people can be calm and collective in very high stress situations, whereas some people freak out when someone has a dizzy spell. Additionally an outside observer may be less stressed, for example someone calling in a 5 car pile up or reporting that someone in their store just collapsed. And then there are children making calls... which probably introduced a whole new level of random.

    The article mentions an error rate, but doesn’t really seem to elaborate as to whether that error rate is stress to emergency, or the algorithm’s ability to identify stress. Before deploying something like this, I hope they do some kind of study to determine if stressed voices correlate to actual emergency severity in the majority of cases (which they may have already done, the article isn’t clear).

    • Clearly 911 should just do triage lists like my bank and phone company do.

      I can see it now:

      Please Press 1 if your cat is stuck in a tree.

      Please Press 2 if you want to report a burglary or robbery that has already happened.

      Please Press 3 if you want to report a burglary or robbery that is in progress.

      Please Press 4 if you were in or would like to report a car accident.

      Please Press 5 if you would like to report a fire.

      Please Press 6 if you would like assistance for a heart attack or stroke.

      For all othe

      • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

        We've all heard it, but it's probably on my top 5 list of simpsons quotes:

        Automated answering system: you have selected "regicide." If you know the name of the king or queen being murdered, press one.

  • by PJ6 ( 1151747 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @08:57AM (#35571100)
    how it will deal with a Scottish accent [youtube.com] .
  • by 1s44c ( 552956 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @09:02AM (#35571156)

    Caller stress doesn't correlate well with how important the call is. It correlates with how closely involved the caller is in the incident.

    Besides a lot of people will panic like crazy at, say, a small car accident where no-one was hurt.

    • by Ksevio ( 865461 )
      Exactly. If someone's house in on fire, they're going to sound a lot more stressed than my calling it in as I'm driving through the neighborhood . Same emergency though.
  • This may seem counter intuitive, but it's a horrible idea. This will provide artificial priority for the histrionic personality type.

  • ...since while my wife is fairly hysterical and stressed when an emergency occurs, I actually tend to get calmer (since freaking out doesn't help anyone.) Being level headed means my call would get automatically triaged as less important?

  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @09:10AM (#35571266)
    I have seen people get hysterical over a fender bender screaming "Oh my baby!" and I have seen people laughing while trying to control a broken airplane. Just hire dispatchers with a bit of common sense.
    This is like the TSA always trying to find a machine to do the job that a human could do way better if they were allowed to do it with common sense.
  • by aaaaaaargh! ( 1150173 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @09:11AM (#35571280)

    So people that remain calm and do not panick during an emergency will get lower priority and have to wait, whereas people that totally freak out and start to cry because the cat doesn't come down from the tree will get help immediately.

    Should emergency dispatch centers be staffed by enough people that are adequately paid instead?

  • Just dial 911 and scream HELP!!!!1!. Be sure and put lots of stress in your voice. Calmly report the location and nature of the emergency? No. Just shriek.

  • Why don't they better train the agents taking the calls.. this reads to me like a scene in Idiocracy where the guy goes to the hospital and the triage nurse has a big panel with icons representing different ailments.. Maybe if the agent knew that 'gun-shots+big pools of blood' > 'I didnt get my chicken nuggets' they wouldnt have this problem.
  • First responders and others trained in giving assistance in emergency (medical) situations are often trained not to treat first the people who are crying out loudest for help - but to consider the quiet, comatose ones as being more seriously in aid of help. Maybe this system would be better used to prioritise the cool, calm, considered callers rather than the hyperactive, hysterical ones.
  • If people who can't sound calm are more likely to get emergency help. then over the generations they'll be more likely to survive emergencies to go on and reproduce, while the relaxed-sounding people will bleed to death in the streets. In a few generations, the overall stress level of the human race will be artificially boosted until we all sound like Gilbert Gottfried.

  • What if I shot my wife and calmly called 911...would they put me at the back of the queue, thus putting her life at risk?

    I know, I know.. not likely; I'd be ecstatic and they'd misinterpret that for stress.

  • New Number (Score:5, Funny)

    by NinjaPablo ( 246765 ) <ninjapablo&smashtech,net> on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @09:23AM (#35571464) Homepage Journal
    Haven't you heard? Emergency services has a new number. It's 0118-999-881-999-119-7253.
  • if someone calls 911 because they want help figuring out their taxes or wants to complain about the neighbors dog pooping on their lawn, they need to be fined, with jail time for those who can't seem to get the message. and jail time for those who purposefully prank 911. an exemption for toddlers who call 911, and elderly who might be confused, is in order, of course

    but otherwise nonemergency concerns are wasting operator's time and putting people with genuine time-critical needs in mortal danger

    • by dingen ( 958134 )
      Isn't that the case already then? Here in the Netherlands, it's a criminal offense to call the emergency line without proper cause. This is what the government [rijksoverheid.nl] says about it:

      Misbruik 112 is strafbaar

      Het bellen van 112 als het niet om een noodgeval gaat, is strafbaar. Er kunnen dan slachtoffers vallen omdat personen met een echte noodmelding geen verbinding kunnen krijgen met de alarmcentrale. De politie doet er in het geval van een nepbeller alles aan om zijn identiteit op te sporen en hem aansprakelijk te stellen voor de gemaakte kosten. Daarnaast kan hij een boete of zelfs een gevangenisstraf krijgen. Ook wanneer er anoniem wordt gebeld, is het nummer te zien. Belt iemand met een mobiele telefoon, dan is het nummer ook te achterhalen. Dit kan zelfs als er geen simkaart in de mobiele telefoon zit.

      Roughly translated, this says abuse of the emergency number is an offense and the police will do anything in its power to track the abuser. When caught, the abuser is liable for the expenses made by his fake emergency call. On top of that, fines and imprisonment are possibilities. Calling the emergency line is never anonymous, even when

    • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *


      Although the trend here seems to be encouraging people to call 911 for any immediate police or fire issue, not just emergencies, rather than calling the police or fire department directly. Makes sense I guess, as I imagine the "only call 911 in absolute emergency" probably leads to some not calling 911 when they really should, and it's probably cheaper to consolodate handling to one place, rather than have the police and fire departments have their own call handling.

  • There is no replacement for an experiences operator that makes an informed decision about the level of urgency. This system may even make matters worse. It is just another exceedingly stupid attempt to replace human intelligence and experience with something cheaper but vastly inferior.

  • I mean, stress can be enhanced by pain. So, I am good if I say, stub my toe [upi.com]. But what if I am in schock? I guess I won't get the help I need.

  • by rbanzai ( 596355 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @09:40AM (#35571720)

    I don't understand this article at all because emergency dispatching is not prioritized based on the caller's choice of priority. I could have ten calls at once all insisting they are the top priority and that information would be irrelevant. The nature of the emergency is what's important, not how badly the caller wants assistance.

    I dispatched during the L.A. riots and believe me every caller wanted someone to help them RIGHT NOW and I don't blame them. But calls for people being beaten got priority over property crime calls. I question the thought process behind this article that dispatchers do not or cannot already properly prioritize calls.

  • There have been systems in place and commercially available that measure the stress level of a callers voice for some time. They are typically used to alert a supervisor if a caller (or agent) is becoming irate, giving them a chance to coach the agent or step in and address the problem.

    If you have a problem with this, say "no" when they advise you that the call is recorded for quality purposes. The law varies from state to state but in many cases they cannot record without your consent.

    • With a lot of the call centres I've experienced that would mean never talking to anyone, because that message is usually an automated one. Your only option would be to hang up.

  • Given there was a incident recently in the UK where a woman died because the call she made to 999 wasn't panicked, so they flagged her as low priority...

    I mean seriously, I'm a very nervous person and I don't like talking to people on the phone. Just speaking to 999 would make me sound panicked.

  • Let's not dwell on the fact that it should be, quite literally, impossible to overwhelm emergency services (hint: If you fill up capacity, YOU! NEED! MORE!).

    Let's just rest assured that the most hysteric people will go through while the people who manage to remain calm will wait forever.

    But that does not matter as this is a non-fix to the symptoms, not a fix to the actual root cause.

  • One person is liable to be more stressed about their cat being stuck in a tree than another who is reporting an injury accident.

  • If I spot an accident or something, and I phone, and I'm surrounded by people who aren't very happy at having been very injured, I will probably speak very calmly so as not to panic everyone around me anymore than they already are.

    Secondly, when talking about something important, I'd speak calm and clearly so they can understand the location and stuff, not get delayed because they misheardly.

    Thirdly, first aid lessons taught me that if there are multiple people injured, often the ones who are hurt the worst

  • Paper abstract:

    The abundance of calls to emergency lines during crises is dicult to handle by the limited number of operators. Detecting if the caller is experiencing some extreme emotions can be a solution for distinguishing the more urgent calls. Apart from these and there are several other applications that can benet from awareness of the emotional state of the speaker. This paper describes the design of a system for selecting the calls that appear to be urgent and based on emotion detection. The system is trained using a database of spontaneous emotional speech from a call-centre. Four machine learning techniques are applied and based on either prosodic or spectral features and resulting in individual detectors. As a last stage and we investigate the eect of fusing these detectors into a single detection system. We observe an improvement in the Equal Error Rate (eer) from 19.0 % on average for 4 individual detectors to 4.2 % when fused using linear logistic regression. All experiments are performed in a speaker independent cross-validation framework.

    Taken from here [tudelft.nl]. The International Journal of Intelligent Defence Support Systems web site [inderscience.com] doesn't appear to be updated with this year's 2nd volume yet. [The English is a bit clunky, but the researchers appear to be Dutch so I forgive them that, at least.]

    • It looks like the copy&paste didn't quite work. The words "difficult", "benefit", and "effect" were spelled correctly, but used a single double-f/fi character instead of two characters. The other grammatical issues (sentence fragments and so on) were present on the page I linked.
  • I'm in shock, you insensitive clod!

  • I don't have access to the paper (aside from the abstract I copied in another comment) and the article is lean on details, but perhaps machine learning took care of most of the issues people have been bringing up. Maybe "calm" callers with real emergencies show signs aside from overt stress reactions that the algorithms picked up on. For instance, I imagine I would speak particularly slowly and clearly if I were actively trying to be calm, and would speak faster otherwise. It's not clear what the 4.2% error
    • The article does describe what they measure to determine stress. "The algorithm measures parameters such as the speed at which the caller is speaking, rises and falls in the pitch and tone of their voice, and their rate of breathing."
      Leaving that aside, when I am in a situation where I have a course of action that will adress the problem with what I consider a high probability of success I have little or no stress (this often results in my wife freaking out at me because she thinks I am not taking the sit
      • It mentions those parameters, but the article doesn't say specifically how they were used. (It only vaguely implies they were used to do something like distinguish "highly stressed" from "not stressed" callers.) Perhaps their machine learning algorithms used those same parameters to deal with the "calm caller" case, as in my slow, careful speech example. Whether or not this is the case would require more information than TFA or TFAbstract gives.

        I can easily imagine a mother calling about her kid's cat in a
  • So basically when they say "don't panic," that'll turn out to be the wrong advice?

  • I can already see ambulances speed across town to overprotective parents who went bananas 'cause little precious sneezed twice in a row.

  • Since when do we wish to reward those who lack emotional control above those who remain calm? The ranting screaming caller should be the one served last.
    Then there are the other situations in which a veteran, quite used to heavy combat, remains dead calm while trying to summon help. Or an emotionally detached party who is simply not at all upset by mayhem and loss of life but fills the role of trying to help by making the emergency call

  • I have doubts about this. What about people who (genuinely) freak out over minor things? I have known some such, and they weren't acting, they were legitimately (if inappropriately) extremely stressed about sometimes the littlest issues.

    I could be wrong, but I predict failure in the real world.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"