May 26, 2023 - Health

How AI could help STAR program calls

Illustration of phone with siren emoji.

Illustration: Allie Carl

Denver wants to use artificial intelligence to help dispatchers know when to send its Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) team.

Details: The city plans on using a program developed by Corti, a Denmark-based company specializing in AI for health care, to help determine which Denver 911 calls are STAR-eligible, agency director Andrew Dameron tells us.

  • STAR, which launched in June 2020 as a pilot program, sends a clinician and paramedic instead of police to calls involving concerns like trespassing, welfare checks, mental health and intoxication or substance use.

Why it matters: City officials say it's likely the first time a city agency will be using AI technology, which in recent months has faced scrutiny over its application and potential impact.

The intrigue: The software won't work in real time, and has not yet been deployed, though Dameron says it is "imminent."

  • It will review recorded 911 calls, Dameron tells us, and search for patterns and keywords that indicate a situation that could benefit from STAR's assistance.
  • That could be used to help a dispatcher's ability to better identify an appropriate response, since it's up to emergency dispatchers to determine whether to send police, fire, EMS or STAR to calls.

By the numbers: The city will pay CORTI this year $60,000 for the services, according to documents obtained by Axios Denver via a public records request.

What they're saying: "My hope, at least, is it will further help us to identify that realm of STAR-eligible calls that we may be missing right now," Dameron tells us.

  • He said differentiating between a call that could go to the STAR instead of police is still a relatively new skill for dispatchers.

The big picture: The software will help with the department's goal to strengthen STAR's response time, and further build it out as its own emergency response agency alongside police, fire and EMS.

Context: Right now, if anyone dials 911, the police non-emergency line, or the STAR line (720-913-STAR), a call taker β€” different from a dispatcher β€” will ask questions about the situation, including safety concerns.

  • The call taker can then flag a call to signal it's STAR-eligible, which the dispatcher can see and then prioritize sending a STAR team out.

Between the lines: Corti and the city began discussions about using its software in Denver in late 2021, Gerrit Van Arkel, vice president of customers and implementation at Corti, tells us.

  • Van Arkel tells us the software Denver is using is called Corti Clear, and it's used to identify trends with call takers and as a training tool to help with accuracy and efficiency.

Go deeper: The Seattle Fire Department started using Corti about six years ago, Corti head of brand Jack Lasse McInnes tells us.

  • It helped Seattle's fire department triage its services, including changing how it screens calls and modifying its protocols for emergency calls, according to a testimonial from the department.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Denver stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more