Australia Undertakes Review of Emergency Number System
Tuesday, November 04, 2014 | Comments

Nearly 40 responses to the Australian government’s review of the national triple zero emergency number were received and will be reviewed and incorporated into a report to the Minister for Communications by March 2015.

Triple zero (0-0-0) is Australia's primary emergency service number to obtain assistance from the police, fire or ambulance service in a time-critical or life-threatening situation. Australia has two secondary emergency service numbers that work only with particular technologies: 1-1-2 is the international standard emergency number that can be called from a GSM mobile, and 1-0-6 is the text-based emergency number for people who are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment and can be called from a teletypewriter (TTY).

The government released a discussion paper on the review of the national triple zero number in July, and comments were due in August. The review is considering how the number can adapt to the changing telecommunications environment so it can continue to support emergency communications into the future.

Telstra is the triple zero operator, but is subject to a competitive tender scheduled for June 2016. Future public expectations for the voice-only service include that it be available easily and quickly anywhere at anytime for free. Mobile location, VoIP and high call volumes are some of the challenges. Australia’s review includes a list of eight questions to determine how the service can best move forward.

The University of Melbourne’s Centre for Disaster Management and Public Safety, Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) Australasia and the Victorian Spatial Council submitted joint responses. The groups said triple zero service in the future should comprise both voice and data components and needs to be built on an open standards roadmap. The response raises about 20 key points about the future triple zero service for further discussion regarding what the tender and the contract for the service will need to address to contribute to the future security and well-being of all Australians.

Numerous governmental, private entities and citizens also submitted responses. As of end-October, 39 responses were available on the Department of Communications website.

Similar initiatives are underway in Europe for its 1-1-2 service and in the United States for next-generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1).

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