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EENA’s statement regarding 112 developments in Romania

On Thursday 25th July, in the Romanian city of Caracal, a 15-year-old girl called the 112 emergency number 3 times. She reported that she had been abducted and asked for urgent help. That help did not arrive until 19 hours later, at which time she was presumed dead. The suspect later told police that he killed the girl, as well as another teenager.

EENA is devastated by this tragic news and by the heart-breaking transcripts that were recently released of the emergency calls. We are shocked and deeply saddened that help did not reach the person that needed it most. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims.

This tragedy brings into question the functioning of 112 in Romania, including how emergency calls are located. For many years, EENA tried to urge public authorities in Romania to deploy Advanced Mobile Location (AML), but no concrete action has been taken to implement this life-saving technology. Similarly, several journalists were also contacted and made aware of the benefits of AML, as well as the lack of action in the country. No interest to investigate was shown.

While the devastating story in Caracal has sparked debate about how emergency calls are handled in Romania, EENA would like to give a reminder of the work of the authorities over the last years to make sure that Romanians benefit from a modern 112 system: all the emergency control rooms are interconnected, people with disabilities can contact emergency services and a public warning system has recently been introduced. Unlike several other Member States, Romania is fully compliant with EU legislation on emergency communications.

We should learn from this tragedy and push for continued efforts to modernise the 112 system in Romania. This must not happen again. Although we cannot be sure that AML could have been used in this particular case, as it is dependent on the type of phone used, we must move to deploy this technology. EENA welcomes the actions taken by the authorities in the last days to ensure the implementation of this technology. Reforms must be led by the most competent people and EENA would like to express concern over the high turnover of staff following the Caracal story, which could potentially lead to stagnation and a lack of progress of the necessary reforms.

To keep the citizens of Romania safe, all steps should be taken to move these reforms forward as soon as possible. This means that all actors of society need to make public safety a priority, not only when tragedies happen but on a permanent basis. This needs to involve public authorities, the counter-power of the media and constructive support from all the political spectrum.

NG112 Project web square

Next Generation 112, now

At the EENA Conference 2019, EENA announced the launch of a new project to modernise how citizens can contact emergency services, as well as how emergency organisations communicate with each other. The year-long pilot project – Launching the Deployment of Next Generation 112 (NG112) – will demonstrate how technologies we use every day such as video calls, text chat and home speakers can be integrated into emergency response in different countries.

NG112 is all about making use of Internet Protocol (IP) communications. IP calls can carry more varied data than traditional calls. Most emergency services are currently limited to receiving just voice, but NG112 would mean that they could also receive location information, text, photos, video calls and other data.

On top of this, NG112 would also mean that emergency services call centres (Public Safety Answering Points) can be interconnected. For example, if there is an overload of calls or if one centre becomes unavailable, emergency calls can be redirected to another. Surprisingly, in most countries this is not currently possible.

Tech industries including the Internet of Things, Smart Cities and 5G are thriving in Europe and there is lifesaving role for them in Next Generation emergency response. The fields are seeing multiple high-level investments, with the European Commission earmarking 700 million euros for the 5G partnership[1] and the EIP-SCC pledging 1 billion euros to 300 smart cities by 2020[2]. Embracing these established technologies in the emergency field will help to create more efficient, accessible and flexible emergency services.

But despite being tried, tested and deployed over in the USA and Canada, Next Generation 112 is almost non-existent in Europe, where most emergency services can only be reached by voice call. Emergency services can’t take advantage of the value of these tech industries, because they simply aren’t prepared to receive the data.

As well as missing out on the benefits, as these tech industries continue to grow, emergency services risk becoming isolated as one of the only services accessible exclusively by traditional phone call. As we turn more and more to communication methods like messenger services[3], emergency services risk becoming completely out of touch with everyday communications. The ‘future’ is already here, but we are not embracing it. EENA plans to change all that.


EENA’s new project will test and deploy the NG112 architecture in different European countries. But why do we need it?

Implementing NG112 will address many difficulties faced by emergency services and citizens. Situations proposed to be tested during the project include automatically delivering caller location, calling using connected objects and potentially even broadcasting public warning messages through home speakers. By testing video or text communications, the NG112 project could also help address the needs of the 80 million people with disabilities in Europe[4]. Add to this that networks between emergency centres can be deployed, improving processes with new possibilities, such as routing calls based on language spoken.

Alongside the lifesaving benefits of NG112 comes a growing necessity to switch to internet-based emergency communications, as the Public Switched Telephone Network for traditional voice calls will soon be phased out. With the NG112 project, EENA is addressing this need to begin moving emergency communications to SIP-based systems.

A call for applications has been launched to join EENA’s new project. Countries wishing to apply should create their own consortium. As SIP-enabled phones for emergency calls have already been successful in controlled situations, EENA’s new project will focus on demonstrating their use in more real-life environments. The results from the pilot project will therefore help to build the foundations for practical deployment of NG112, and therefore the future of emergency call-handling in Europe.

By Rose Michael, Knowledge Officer, EENA.

References:

[1]  European Commission

[2]  EIP-SCC

[3] Digital Information World

[4] European Disability Forum

NG112 Call applications

NG112 project: call for applications

Today at the EENA Conference 2019, EENA announced a call for applications for a new project – Launching the Deployment of Next Generation 112 (NG112) – to both modernise how citizens can reach help in case of emergency and to interconnect emergency services. Consortium, including public authorities and middle-tier companies, are invited to apply. The year-long project will build the foundations for practical deployment of NG112 and the future of emergency call-handling in Europe.

NG112 is about making it possible for emergency services to receive not just voice, but location information, real-time text, photos, video calls and other data. For this, emergency services have to modernise their communications technology and open them to internet-based communications. There is a growing necessity to switch to internet-based emergency communications, as the Public Switched Telephone Network for traditional voice calls will soon be phased out.

EENA’s new project will test and deploy the NG112 architecture in different European countries. It will focus on demonstrating its use in real-life environments.

Proposed test situations include routing based on location, video and real-time text communications, calls through connected objects and broadcast of public warning messages through home speakers. Consult the project description for more information. The use cases are not exhaustive; interested participants are invited to propose additional test situations.

Read about the project in the press here.

In order to apply for the project, consortia must ensure that they can test a full NG112 call between user equipment and a PSAP based on international standards. Each consortium must involve at least one PSAP.

Different types of stakeholders may be needed, including:

  • Device providers
  • Telecommunications providers
  • NG112 architecture components
  • CAD providers
  • Emergency services organisations

Interested participants should email Cristina Lumbreras, [email protected] before 15 June 2019. Full details on the call for application and the information required are available in the call for proposals.

NG112 Project web square

NG112 Plugtests

Text messages, pictures and videos are shared instantly with friends and colleagues around the world, and social networks have become a media by themselves. But, for the time being, most European emergency services can only be reached through the public switched telephony or mobile networks.

All over the world, citizens expect to be able to contact emergency services with technologies they use to communicate every day. Hence, a technical architecture is needed to resolve these issues – the “Next Generation 112 architecture (NG112)”.

NG112 addresses three major objectives:

  1. Communication between citizens and emergency services
  2. Interoperability between emergency services
  3. Open Standards approach

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), in partnership with EENA (the European Emergency Number Association), organised the third Next Generation (NG112) Emergency Services Plugtests™ event. This event was hosted by ETSI, from 28 January to 1 February 2019 in Sophia Antipolis, France.

The aim of the event was to trial independently and jointly all components of the 112 communication chain based on Next Generation networks. Different topics were addressed, including Location Based Emergency Call Routing, Policy Based Emergency Call Routing, and Next Generation Media Types.

The results of the tests show that the NG112 technology is mature and that a large number of vendors provide the various elements of the NG112 equipment chain and that those elements interoperate with each other. Thus providing a large choice of innovative products to build next generation emergency communication solutions. With the upcoming publication of ETSI TS 103 479 and its accompanying standards, the conditions for procurement and deployment are reached.

Find more in the event’s report, prepared by ETSI.

The Role of Geographic Information Systems in Next Generation 112

NG112 and the new Emergency Services Networks Landscape

NG112: Security & Privacy Issues

NG112 Emergency Services Plugtest 2017 – Report by ETSI

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Join the Humans of 112 Campaign & have your voice heard !

Every February 11th, we celebrate 112 Day. This year, we want to highlight the fantasic work of everyone in the emergency field. And we’re inviting you to be involved !

Wherever you work in the emergency chain – whether you’re a paramedic, call taker, police officer, firefighter, coastguard, disaster planner, search & rescue pilot, CPR trainer, or any other emergency role – we want you to raise your voice and tell everyone what your job means to you.

Across Europe and beyond, emergency services professionals will be sharing photos and experiences on social media on 112 Day with #HumansOf112. The campaign will highlight all those who work every day to keep us safe… those too often kept in the background.

It’s very simple! On 112 Day (February 11th):

  • Take a photo of yourself (or you and your colleagues) in your work environment/uniform.
  • Upload it on social media with a short message about what your job means to you.
  • Don’t forget to use #HumansOf112 .
  • Tag our social media accounts so we can help share your message:
    • Twitter: @112_sos
    • Facebook: European Emergency Number 112
    • LinkedIn: EENA 112

 

We’ll also be sharing a selection of portraits on 112 Day from across Europe. Look out for the portrait from your country or field, and show your support for their work and motivation by sharing with your network.

Other

2019 Year of Change for Public Warning

How much of the technology that we use today is the same as back in World War Two? It’s a struggle to think of many, isn’t it? The way we travel, work and spend our free time have all changed dramatically. It might then surprise you that in many EU countries, people are still warned of emergencies in the same way as back in the 1940s.

But 2019 marks a year of change. December’s new legislation means that this year, public authorities will start taking public warning more seriously and here at the European Emergency Number Association, we’ll be following the progress all the way…

In emergencies, saving time is crucial. Public authorities are usually among the first to hear about a crisis, be it a terrorist attack or a natural disaster. If they can quickly communicate the danger to those in the same area, vulnerable people have time to reach safety. We live in a highly connected world, where your smartphone can control your heating and a talking robot can order your milk. Despite this, many EU countries are still relying on old-school sirens to warn people of threats.

This raises many questions (and concerns). How can a siren tell people the type of danger? How can a siren advise panicked people on how to stay safe? Will a siren reach everyone in danger? And is there really not a more modern way to warn people? At EENA, we’ve been asking these questions for many years and we’ve been insisting that this situation needs to change.

Thankfully, EU decision-makers also started to ask themselves these questions. The world of public safety transformed last month, when new EU legislation came into force that will change the way emergencies are handled. Thanks to the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC), authorities in all EU countries will have to jump into the modern day and use public warning technology better suited to 21st century life to alert their citizens.

What will this technology look like? Like most aspects of public safety, there is no one-size-fits-all. In our research, we found that the best solutions come from a blend of methods. And this year, we’ve already started to work closely with several EU Member States as part of our new project: Preparing the Implementation of Public Warning in Europe. We’ll continue sharing our expertise to find the most effective solutions for each country’s specific needs, as well as discussing available options at the EENA Conference this April. Nevertheless, in the EECC, EU decision-makers clearly highlighted one method as a crucial element in this multi-channel blend: Reverse 112.

When authorities become aware of an emergency, one of the most effective ways to alert people is to use telephone networks to send a message to their phones, using cell broadcast or SMS. That’s where the name ‘Reverse 112’ comes from. The message is targeted, only reaching those in the affected area, providing clear, timely instructions. At the end of 2017, 85% of the European population were subscribed to mobiles services. So, it makes perfect sense that within 2 years, all EU Member States will have to use telephone networks for public warning. If your phone can tell you whether it will rain, how far the nearest bus stop is and how many steps you’ve taken, surely it should also tell you if there is a danger nearby?

The EU’s landmark decision to make modern public warning mandatory marks a shift of focus from reactive to preventative attitudes when it comes to managing ongoing emergencies. If a city is destroyed by an earthquake, we would not re-build the city in the same way. Instead, we would analyse how the structures can be adapted to stop the buildings collapsing again. It’s the same logic with public warning. Some countries may already use public warning apps, but can we really expect everyone to download an app? Others may use social media, but how many will check these accounts regularly or what’s more, during a crisis? It’s clear (and has been clear for a long time) that these methods are not successful by themselves.

Chile serves as an excellent example. After the devastating earthquake in February 2010, authorities recognised the urgent need to strengthen the country’s public warning system. Originally created to help warn of tsunamis, the Emergency Alert System – Chile’s Reverse 112 – is now used for a wide range of other emergencies, including forest fires and volcanic activities. In a country where it is often difficult or impossible to predict risks, Reverse 112 is literally lifesaving.

From previous disasters, we must learn and adapt. The tragic Paris attacks in 2015: 130 people lost their lives. No modern public warning system. The Westminster Bridge attack in 2017: 6 people were killed. No modern public warning system. The Attica wildfires in 2018 in Greece: 100 people confirmed dead. No modern public warning system. Let 2019 be the year that we learn. The year when the right information is given to the right people, at the right time.

By Rose Michael, Knowledge Officer, EENA.

Public Warning document

European calls in the upcoming EU legislation (briefing on the EECC)

Public Warning in Chile case study

Warning Europeans of attacks: all talk, no action?

How many attacks until Europe acts on public warnings?

Public Warning

European calls in EU legislation

Public Warning in Chile