New voice-recognition system for UCD

29 Jun 2006

University College Dublin (UCD) has installed one of the largest voice-recognition systems in Europe. Callers can be put directly through to staff members or individual schools simply by speaking the name of the person or school they want into the phone.

The system was supplied by communications services provider Damovo. The service starts working when operators are not available to answer in person. UCD calls the system Direct 24 as it hopes now to operate a 24-hour university, as staff and students will be able to communicate at any time.

Software from Nuance operates the service. This runs on two standard servers connected directly to UCD’s Nortel PBX. Damovo has committed to delivering an accurate call-completion rate of 95pc and to do this it had to work closely with UCD to make sure that the software could recognise the names of all people included in the system’s directory.

“We have a broad multicultural community in UCD with people from many countries and with names from many different languages,” said Cxema Pico, systems manager for UCD Buildings and Services. “The directory had to be customised to recognise all relevant names, including those with Irish or other international names.”

The directory’s capacity for 10,000 names means that various versions of a person’s name can be stored, for example their full name or their academic title and surname. It is also integrated with other directory services, which ensures that Direct 24 is updated whenever other systems change. This reduces the need for double entry of names and makes management and administration simpler and easier.

In the future, the service will be able to provide callers with voice-activated access to static information, such as building opening hours and other campus information.

UCD evaluated several systems before choosing Damovo, whose service Pico said was functionally the best of those available. “Damovo also offered very competitive pricing and the level and flexibility of support they promised was excellent,” he added.

By Gordon Smith