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The European Union celebrated 1-1-2 Day, the single European emergency number, 11 February. With an average of 255 million mobile emergency calls every year, a new technical solution helps to provide accurate caller location for people in distress.
Europeans can dial 1-1-2 for free in any EU country if they need to contact emergency services, thanks to EU legislation, introduced in 1991. Every year, about 300,000 people who call the emergency services cannot describe their location.
Mobile and smart devices are able to provide emergency services with accurate caller location via a short message service (SMS) or data channel by using in-built Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) or Wi-Fi capabilities. A report published shows significant improvement for caller location in several EU countries.
Lithuania upgraded its network-based location solution to ensure significantly more accurate caller location. The United Kingdom and Estonia deployed the Advance Mobile Location (AML) handset-based caller location solution, which can locate a person to within 100 meters. An EU-financed project, HELP 112, looked into how GNSS can improve caller location using the AML solution. It was tested in the U.K., Lithuania, Italy and parts of Austria. The AML solution currently is available only on Android phones.
"Satellite navigation is crucial in determining the precise location of the 1-1-2 caller and saving lives,” said Commissioner El?bieta Bie?kowska. “Galileo, Europe's satellite navigation system, will be able to locate the caller with much greater accuracy. The launch of Galileo's initial services and first Galileo smartphones available on the market show how space data is making a difference in daily lives of EU citizens."
HELP 112 tested the AML solution, initially developed in United Kingdom. Thanks to this technology, Lithuanian emergency services assisted a little boy who called from home but did not know his address. Emergency services were able to pin down his location and saved his father who had suffered an epileptic seizure.
In addition to funding research, the commission is also improving EU rules on 1-1-2. Last September the commission proposed an update of EU telecoms rules in the form of an Electronic Communication Code. The commission wants to enhance the relevant provisions of the Universal Service Directive to facilitate the use of handset-based caller location as a complement to network-based location data.
According to the proposal, member states will be obliged to ensure that caller location arrives in a timely manner to the public-safety answering point (PSAP) that handles emergency calls. Notwithstanding the technology used, caller location will be free for citizens and the PSAPs.