The NG-SOS Platform; a case study of up-and-running international interoperability

NG-SOS has created a unique cross-border connection of 4 EU mobile apps, which together currently serve more than 3.5 million users, and which have been communicating within a homogeneous barrier-free region for more than 4 years.

NG-SOS has created a unique cross-border connection of 4 EU mobile apps, which together currently serve more than 3.5 million users, and which have been communicating within a homogeneous barrier-free region for more than 4 years. Users of one app can travel without needing to download the neighbouring country’s emergency app. Not only can they use connected apps for emergency calling, but they can also communicate via icons in their native language. Also, emergency medical profiles have been paired to provide the same internationally accepted information across all supported countries.

Emergency mobile apps from the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, and Slovakia today represent a homogeneous group of countries featuring cross-border functionality within their emergency mobile apps. Now, the platform is opening up to other apps with a single goal: to ensure basic data transfer and interoperability of all users’ mobile apps across as many countries as possible. And all of this is to be achieved on a non-profit basis, without imposing further complicated requirements on PSAPs or operators of emergency mobile apps.

Although NG-SOS ( today enables even more without a mobile app (such as WebRTC including video or real-time chat communication), it all started 10 years ago with the creation of a mobile app to make emergency calls more efficient by sending continuous incident location, identification and classification. Not only was the first app, created in the Czech Republic, a huge success with more than 2 million downloads, but other neighbouring countries, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary, subsequently joined the platform. Now in the event of an emergency while in Austria, Czech visitors can use their existing Czech app instead of having to download the Austrian version. Since the connection was launched, dozens of emergency calls have been made in this way. An important element of this connection is also communication through the use of icons, which helps towards overcoming language barriers.

The NG-SOS family of apps has opened its arms to all other interoperable emergency call apps. This is not a commercial project but an initiative with the aim of simply connecting different mobile app interfaces from different countries. NG-SOS will provide partners – either the PSAP or the organisation running the emergency app – with an interface for connecting to a Roaming data server free of charge. Or, they will simply adopt the already up-and-running app interface of the partner app in order to simplify the process of interconnection without any further work needed on the partner side. If the partner’s app is located in a territory covered by the NG-SOS platform, the basic data of the caller’s location, identification and classification is transmitted directly to the appropriate PSAP – functioning exactly as it has been doing so for the past 4 years between the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, and Slovakia. This cooperation is run on a non-commercial basis in the form of a memorandum on the exchange of mobile app interfaces. The Roaming server is operated free of charge thanks to the support of the Vodafone Foundation.

In addition to cross-border sharing of basic data in the case of emergency communication (caller location, classification, and identification), the NG-SOS platform is also the first ever initiative to connect AED databases across several EU states – this project will be presented in more detail at the EENA conference in Ljubljana.

The NG-SOS initiative is in no way directed against other commercial or non-commercial projects to unify communication between several countries. Our goal is to achieve mutual compatibility also with other projects. An example of this is the connection between NG-SOS and NG-112 architecture to ensure maximum compatibility and mutual cooperation. We want to generically enable the connection of mobile apps for the transfer of basic datasets with the caller’s location, classification, and identification to emergency lines. All of this is possible thanks to the unique experience of operating the most widely used system of cross-border cooperation in Europe, and all ideally in cooperation with other partners.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of EENA. Articles do not represent an endorsement by EENA of any organisation.

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