Why An Emergency Alert Notification Needs A High Quality Voice
We’ve all heard it before. Your TV or radio begins buzzing and beeping with an all-too-familiar tone. It’s an emergency alert. You listen up for the information that’s about to be read to you. It could be a weather notification, or an AMBER alert. Either way, you listen carefully to the message, because the information could be important to you.
Most of the time, the next thing you hear is a synthesized voice. It’s not actually someone reading out the message; rather, it’s a text-to-speech engine that is able to convert the text alert into an audible message that gets broadcasted to you.
Unfortunately, residents in Ontario, Canada fell victim to a poorly executed text-to-speech system. Last month, an AMBER alert came on after a running car with a baby inside was stolen. The alert was difficult to understand as the voice was not high quality. Then, the message ended with, “If observed, call September 1st, 2001”.
In this case, the system failed to read out “9-1-1” and instead read it out as a date.
Another incident occurred before that after a possible abduction. The TTS voice so poorly announced the name of the city (Orillia, Ontario) that some people didn’t even know what had been said.
With the recent advances in text-to-speech technology, it’s shocking to see such an issue still exist. TTS is increasingly being used for announcing important information. In these situations where every detail could matter, it is vital to have a clear and correct, natural sounding text-to-speech voice announce these alerts.
TTS Alerts Us More Than You Think
In addition to these emergency alerts we hear on the TV or radio, text-to-speech technology has also been used to announce alerts through computer networks and phone lines.
For example, let’s say a severe snow storm has dumped 10 feet of snow around a city, and school is scheduled to open in a few hours. There’s no time to call each family individually and tell them school is closed. Instead, many school districts have a system in place that lets you type in the message, and then it automatically calls each family and reads aloud your message using text-to-speech. In this case, it’s telling them that the school will be closed for the day.
Fire stations use TTS to announce incoming calls so firefighters can get the information as they rush to put their gear on. Businesses use it to announce meetings, product recalls, instructions, or other timely information.
The point is that is there are thousands of examples of when information needs to be relayed in an instant. Using TTS technology is the best way to address this issue. However, it is important to realize that this may not be the best time to go cheap. In these cases, you want to have the highest quality voice.
Why Go High Quality?
There can be a variety of reasons to send out an alert, but most alerts contain information that could be important to one’s well being, and are urgent. In these situations, many people could be affected by the alert you are sending out. So, you better make sure that they fully understand the information you are sending them.
Going back to the previous example, what if someone from Orillia could have spotted the abductor after the alert was broadcasted, only they didn’t because the quality of the voice was so bad that they didn’t have any details to go off of? This would be a tragedy.
Emergencies are the most important times for clear communication. TTS technology is great for creating audio alerts effortlessly and instantly. We strongly recommend anyone wanting to use this technology to find the best quality solutions.
Here are a few tips we have so you can be sure that your system is flawless:
- Shop around. All TTS suppliers should let you listen to demos of their voices before your purchase. Enter in an example of an alert you may send out and see if it’s up to your standards (you can try this with all of NeoSpeech’s voices on our homepage).
- Deploy the best-of-breed TTS engine, not an API. TTS engines can be integrated into other applications and programs you may already have. Be thorough when doing this and reach out to your TTS supplier’s tech support team if you run into any problems.
- Configure the system to your preferences. Make sure your TTS engine reads out numbers instead of dates if that’s what you want. Don’t tell people to call September 1st when they should be calling 9-1-1.
- Test it. Test your new system with every scenario you can think of. The point of a TTS system is to instantly create an audio file out of a text alert, and it usually gets broadcasted instantly. At that point, you won’t have time to fix any mistakes. Take care of it before you launch the system.
As we mentioned earlier, TTS is being used for more than TV or radio alerts. Businesses, schools, computer programs, airports, fire stations, public transit stations, hospitals and medical devices all use text-to-speech to announce alerts.
In emergency situations, we implore you to choose to best voice you can find.
What do you think?
Our NeoSpeech voices have been used for alert notifications for years, have you heard any? What sort of TTS engine do you use to send out alerts? Let us know in the comments!
Learn More about NeoSpeech’s Text-to-Speech
To learn more about the different areas in which Text-to-Speech technology can be used, visit our Text-to-Speech Areas of Application page. And to learn more about the products we offer, visit our Text-to-Speech Products page.
If you’re interested in adding Text-to-Speech software to your application or would like to learn more about TTS, please fill out our Sales Inquiry form and one of our friendly team members will be happy to help.