eCall is here
Following GEM’s initial report on the scheme in 2014, after today, every new car model will be fitted with an emergency call (eCall) system. Should the car detect the need to telephone the emergency services, it will do so not only requesting help but also sending location and technical information first, such as if the airbags have been deployed. An audio link will also be established with the cabin but the operator will have received information about the car and its location already. This means that contact can be made with the occupants (presuming that they are conscious) within 30 seconds after the impact has occurred. It is worth noting that the system is intended to operate only in an emergency situation and can be activated both manually and automatically. Privacy concerns are addressed, allegedly, by the system communicating only with a network, when it detects that an emergency situation has arisen.
The eCall concept is laudable. Extra minutes and even seconds save lives, meaning that the chances of a crash victim surviving a severe accident increases greatly, if the emergency services can arrive sooner. eCall’s research showed that, with the system operational, emergency services’ reaction times could be reduced by 40% in towns and cities and, in the countryside, could be slashed in half.
Initially, eCall was due for mandatory implementation by October 2015 but, according to the European Transport Safety Council, pressure from manufacturers was one reason why it was delayed by over two years. However, this delay may have been necessary anyway, to allow member states sufficient time to establish the necessary procedures required to handle not only emergency calls but also the automatically-generated data.
In the UK, Avaya has been reported as putting eCall’s infrastructure in place, which was reported last December as being ready for use – more about this can be read on the company’s blog. In practice, the call is received by BT, which passes the information to a police call centre – other emergency services are then called if required. However, it has been reported that training is the current limiting factor, because staff need to be proficient with the extra information that an eCall message might provide, compared to the traditional ‘999’ call.
However, the EU ruling decrees not that all new cars from today are equipped with eCall but all new car models come with it. In practice, therefore, it will be a little time before all new cars will come fitted with the system. Yet, eCall looks to be a genuinely innovative system that will make a positive impact on road safety.
The image is used with thanks from InnovITS Advance, where developers are checking to see if an emergency call has been routed successfully.