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Voice recording Print E-mail

Wave file imageIf you’re on this page, chances are you’re looking for an affordable, effective voice logging system that automatically logs all incoming and outgoing telephone calls, records onto a hard drive having converted the voice logs in a user-friendly audio format, all of the above coupled with effective after-sales service (in the major centres of SA).

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What is Voice recording?

 Organizations are accountable for what transpires from both its internal- and external communications, and as a result, voice logging originated. The original voice logger was an analogue system developed in 1950, from the relatively simple requirement of being able to record (and retrieve) telephonic interactions.  (The word "logging" stems from the “log” of audio files that is generated as each recording is made.)

 Over time the application of voice logging has expanded from merely being used in review of what was said,  by whom, to being implemented as a tool that controls telephony costs, assists with lost information retrieval and even employee performance evaluation.  It is a tool that has the inherent potential to bluntly settle disputes at the level of origination (eliminating costly investigation & follow up), or to materially assist in litigious proceedings.

 Ideally, a call-file should be date- and time stamped, with enough data points attached to allow multiple search-criteria: caller, number called, duration, user, filesize. A system should enable the user to either automatically, or selectively capture telephone activity (and both sides of the conversation), to archive, note, retrieve, review, and be able to forward information. Unfortunately, MP3 protocol limits what can in fact be “attached” to a file. It would be great if we could add the “policy number” or “claim number” to the file, but that is not feasible, as yet. However, we have a surprisingly simple manner of circumventing the inherent limitation of Mp3 files.

 Mp3 is a compression algorithm designed to reduce the amount of data required to represent the audio recording, yet still to sound like a faithful reproduction (although not in high fidelity audio).  The compression works by reducing the accuracy of certain parts of a sound that are beyond the human ear's auditory ability, by using acoustic models to discard / reduce these components, to only record the remaining information. 

 There is a trade-off between the amount of space used and the sound quality of the result. Typically, Mp3 files are created using a bit rate setting of 128 kbit/s (about 1/10th the size of the original source), but it can be constructed at higher or lower bit rates, with higher or lower resulting quality. 

Compression is not the only relevant consideration, though. “Hertz” (Hz) is a measure of frequency that refers to the ‘number of cycles occurring per second’. It is the basic unit of frequency and used to describe frequencies. Whereas 'Mp3' determines the underlying data file’s recording, 'Hz' influences the quality of the source of the call-file.

 A telephone conversation is in any event subject to the bottleneck of the telephony network itself. Telephones transmit a very small / light frequency (around 8 800Hz), which simply means that a recording of a call can never be comparable to hi fidelity audio.

Did you know?  In the 1960s, packets of the “Cap'n Crunch” breakfast cereal (distributed in the USA) included a free, small whistle that could (by coincidence) generate a 2600 Hz tone. By dialling a telephone number, covering one of the whistle's two holes and then blowing the whistle, it would fool the telephone line to believe that it was not being used whilst, in fact, the whistler could make a call to any destination in the world, for free!
There are basically three types of phone recorders available:
  •  Analogue (tape) systems:  Older models are based on reel-to-reel tape to store conversations; they hook an individual cassette tape recorder up to the individual telephone line. These days’ tape systems are usually more expensive to maintain and less accessible to ‘search’ than digital systems.
  • Digital systems (that cater for trunk-side and/or extension-side recording). These are the most commonly used today, and typically consist of a either a proprietary “box” of hardware that hooks into the phone system or telephone lines, or by software systems (“softphones”) that use a PC’s sound card to record telephone calls.  Some are simple single-user systems that only require installation of the software on the PC, whilst using a simple adapter to connect the PC to the telephone. (Usually this type of application can only record the line on which it is installed, and is relatively limited in respect of features.) Calls are typically stored in a compact, MP3 format.
  • Business-class recording systems enable businesses of all sizes to deploy centralized call recording (digital) and -monitoring. Some systems allow users to remotely review telephone recordings with desktop screen capture and quality reporting. These systems typically access the telephony system via the chromo - or switchboard, with modular architecture allowing scalability of installation. 
 Whatever your setup, a solution can be implemented. Systems can be tailored to any possible PABX or call-centre environment, securing tamper-proof management of recorded data. 
Voice recording, and the law.
A voice recording will only become relevant in a dispute, and in any civil or criminal dispute, it is necessary – unless the point is conceded - to prove that a evidence is genuine, that "it is what it purports to be”. In SA, voice recording is not regulated as in the USA (where ‘one’ - and ‘two party’ states exist). It is important to note, however, that everybody has the basic, constitutionally protected right not too incriminate themselves, and in criminal proceedings it might be difficult to introduce voice recordings obtained without the consent of the other party.
Voice recordings are regarded as a form of ‘documentary’ evidence. The only real question lies in its admissibility to the proceedings;  it may not - for example - consist of privileged or hearsay evidence, and in deciding admissibility the court will look at all relevant factors, including: 
  a) how the evidence  was  obtained, 
  b) how it was stored, 
  c) how its integrity was maintained, and
  d) its potential relevance to the matter concerned. 
Simply put, it is critical that the evidence's (recording's) integrity be maintained throughout its obtainment, storage and production, as it will be tested against the above considerations: a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and the recording only useful if it has integrity.
In voice logging it is material whether the user and equipment was functioning properly and according to set guidelines at the time of the recording, and that it was not tampered with (as recordings can be edited or amended). 
Once deemed as admissible, a further level of complication arises insofar as the evidence constituted by the recording itself may perhaps not be clearly audible, or the identity of the participants unclear. It is imperative that the user record relevant information to establish the identity of both parties, and to obtain consent in respect of the recording.
While the recording of telephonic data is useful there can be practical problems, as illustrated in a determination published by the STI's Ombud. It is imperative to conduct business over recorded lines - there is little use in establishing and maintaining voice logging procedures and systems if advice is dispensed over untracked lines:
'Respondent telephoned Van Rooyen to confirm that his insurance was ‘in order’. He alleges Van Rooyen assured him that it was. He then told Van Rooyen of the damage to the trailer and that he wanted to institute a claim. After a long silence, Van Rooyen exclaimed that the trailer was not covered as he was still sourcing quotes for it and that there was no signed contract in place as yet. He then said he ‘ “...didn’t think that the trailer would fall over that quickly” ’

Van Rooyen denies having told complainant that cover was in place as contended by him. He says he told complainant that : ‘everything was recorded and that I would be able to listen to the voice-log to confirm our conversation on the 23rd of August 2006. Afterwards I realised that Mr Van der Walt contacted me on my cell-phone, and was therefore not voice-logged by our system.’ 

(In casu the Ombud found in favour of the brokerage, but only as a result of discrepancies in the testimony of the complainant. However, as the quoted passage illustrates, a recorded telephone conversation - as contended by the broker - would have comprehensively addressed the problem arising from this set of circumstances.)
Old Telephone 


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