Mobile industry’s eCall system aims to save lives on Europe’s roads

9 Sep 2009

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The worldwide mobile industry body GSMA has developed a new emergency call system that will be deployed across Europe to boost emergency responses and prevent European road deaths.

The GSMA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to secure the deployment of a single, in-vehicle emergency call service, known as eCall, across Europe.

Rob Conway, chief executive officer and member of the board of the GSMA, visited the offices of Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media, to sign the MoU on behalf of the global mobile industry today.

eCall is an emergency call generated either manually by vehicle occupants or automatically via in-vehicle sensors in an emergency situation.

When activated, the eCall system establishes a voice connection with the emergency services. At the same time, it sends the critical data, including time, location, direction of travel and vehicle identification, to speed response times by the emergency services.

There were about 39,000 deaths and more than 1.7 million injuries on European roads in 2008.

According to the European Commission’s research, a service such as eCall can save up to 2,500 lives every year, reduce the severity of injuries by 10 to 15pc, and reduce emergency response times by up to 50pc in rural areas and 40pc in urban centres. 

The MoU creates a framework for the introduction of eCall and is designed to encourage co-operation between vehicle manufacturers, telecommunications operators, the European Commission and the EU Member States, together with other relevant parties such as the insurance industry, automobile clubs and other industry partners. eCall, like emergency calls, will be offered free of charge to users. 

In addition to the free eCall service, vehicle manufacturers and service providers can provide additional commercial services to supplement eCall.

“eCall is a hugely beneficial and logical step forward in EU policy-makers’ attempts to reduce fatalities on European roads,” Conway explained.

“The GSMA fully supports the European Commission’s MoU and, by becoming a signatory, we are formalising our members’ commitment to participate with other stakeholders in deploying the eCall service.”

For operators, eCall can be one of the many features supported by the Embedded Mobile Initiative, a programme driven by the GSMA with the aim to accelerate the adoption of wireless connectivity in a wide range of devices. In addition, operators will be able to offer new value-added services, such as in-car mapping applications.

Photo: Fewer road fatalities may be the result of the new eCall system.

By John Kennedy

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com