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eCall’s global developments highlighted at Beijing Congress Special Session
Creation date: 05 November 2007
The status of emergency call (eCall) and emergency services in the three regions of Japan, the US and Europe was the focus of a Special Session at the Beijing ITS World Congress, held 9 – 13 October. The 10 October session demonstrated that while the problems surrounding eCall are similar in the regions, the approach to solutions is different. It was moderated by Ms Sheryl Wilkerson, Vice President Government Affairs and Regulatory Policy, Ygomi Inc. Speakers included Ms Shelley Row, Director of the Joint ITS Office, US DoT, Mr Juhani Jääskeläinen of European Commission DG INFSO, and Mr Koji Ukena of Panasonic Automotive Systems.
In his presentation, Mr Jääskeläinen explained that in Europe, the focus is still in the "first generation" emergency calling. There are still problems in the service quality of the single European emergency number 112, and E112, the location-enhanced emergency call, is still not available in 11 Member States; the EC has started infringement procedures against these Member States. He noted that the EC aims at full deployment of the service in 2010, but this requires solving the remaining issues such as the standard for the data bearer and getting the missing Member States to sign the eCall MoU. In addition, mobile network operators need to agree, and the vehicle manufacturers have to equip vehicles with the eCall device starting from 2010.
From the US perspective, the E911 emergency number is still a problem. Thus, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is in the process of establishing an independent agency for emergency calling, to act as a single point of contact. However, work on solving the next generation issues such as VoIP, multi-media, SMS and access to disabled is underway.
Japan’s HELPNET is a commercial service that has 160,000 subscribers. In 2006, there were 1000 manual activations, 59 automatic activations and 9 cases without a reply. A study conducted showed that emergency services can be dispatched 60% faster with HELPNET. This is a positive result, but it is unclear why there is not a larger HELPNET customer base in Japan.
The Q&A period which followed the speakers addressed issues such as the role of nomadic devices, SIM issue, and cost of implementation.
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