The modernization of public safety communications and the improvement of emergency response are facilitated by the digitization of society and advances in communication methods. However, the penetration of these advances still varies across Europe as public safety is managed at national, regional, or even local levels.

The EU aims to reduce such disparities to ensure equivalent access to emergency and crisis support for all citizens, including people with disabilities.

EECC: Paving the road to European NG112

Published in March 2023, the Delegated Regulation of the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) encourages the adoption of Internet Protocol-based emergency communications and sets clear deadlines to accelerate the path to Next Generation Emergency Communications 112 (NG112) for public safety.

By the end of 2023, each EU member state must have a roadmap detailing a deployment plan for NG112 networks. In this way, all Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) in each country can connect to them to benefit from enhanced multimedia capabilities and thus “receive, respond and process emergency communications using packet-switched technology”.

In this article, we will discuss key aspects that governments and local authorities will have to consider in their roadmaps to improve public safety.

Improving emergency responses through contextual information processing

If my mobile device knows precisely where I am and has information stored about my health or my emergency contacts, why can’t this information be used in emergency situations to help save lives in a way that is secure and respectful of privacy?

Location information, real-time text (RTT), photos, video calls and other data can be available depending on where the communication originated. Communications sent from eCall devices in cars, or from a PEMEA mobile apps, or from diverse alarm devices (i.e., IoT devices) can provide very useful information in emergency situations, and in all those cases they should be received and managed in the PSAPs.

That is why PSAPs need to be able to seamlessly and securely receive additional data together with emergency communications and present the information to operators in a useful manner to help them provide the most appropriate response.

Given the diversity of information that can arrive at PSAPs, it is necessary to coordinate actions through standards so that all data can be received, from different sources and companies, securely and in an identical, processable format.

Caller location information and how it improves emergency responses

Caller location information is crucial for PSAP operators to promptly dispatch emergency services and assist victims in accessing necessary resources like Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) or safe shelters.

Indeed, during each emergency communications, PSAPs need precise and dependable location data coming from various sources, including the telecommunications network, directly from devices with GPS capabilities (like cell phones or eCall devices in a car) or a combination of both. This accurate location data is processed and then promptly shared with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that emergency responders are dispatched to the right place in a timely manner.

Challenges arise when some emergency communications lack valid or accurate location details or even when the caller is referring to an event somewhere else. This may lead to time-consuming interrogations of distressed individuals in an attempt to ascertain the emergency’s whereabouts.

To address this issue, clear and uniform requirements are necessary for all stakeholders, including network operators, to gather and provide qualitative information to PSAPs, reducing avoidable delays and helping improve the emergency response.

Countries and regions face one key obstacle: a lack of a consensus regarding the criteria for reliability and accuracy of location information, and that’s why the EECC regulation is asking for it.

The EECC aims to accelerate the path to Next Generation Emergency Communications 112 (NG112) for public safety through contextual information processing and non-voice communications for an improved accessibility.

Ensuring emergency communications are accessible to all.

Just as voice calls to 112 do not require caller registration, are free of charge, and are delivered in real time and with location information for people in distress, even when roaming in Europe, so should non-voice communications used primarily by deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech-impaired people.

PSAPs and response organizations need to be able to communicate in real time with people in distress who cannot hear or speak, due to disabilities or circumstances, so 112 cannot be accessible by voice alone.

Video communications may also require sign language interpretation, and text communications must be able to handle pictograms or images to help describe the situation. And of course, accurate and reliable location information must be transmitted to the PSAP for non-voice communications too!

The critical communications conundrum

Today, not all PSAPs are able to receive video or text communications in real time, so the technology to relay and manage these media needs to be put in place —both on the network side and on the PSAP side. And of course, legislation needs to be adapted to make these communications free of charge for people in emergency situations.

According to the EECC, real-time text processing is required by 2027. Emergency response organizations must accelerate the implementation of solutions to meet these targets, and within a year, the administration must report to the EU on how and when the network will be ready.

Welcoming modernization of public safety

The EECC regulation is a milestone in implementing standardized, interoperable and modern NG112 networks at European scale. However, for public authorities, defining their process and timeline for upgrading to NG112 is a real challenge. They must plan and design their network but also find reliable suppliers to be compliant with this regulation. For that, Eviden can help.

Next-gen technology leader in data-driven, trusted and sustainable digital transformation, Eviden has been working with global organizations to provide their customers with integrated solutions that comply with the latest European standards and regulations. With a product roadmap that is consistent with ongoing standardization activities in the public safety domain, Eviden aims at providing compliance-ready end-to-end solutions.

Let’s connect to discuss how we can help you usher in this new era in public safety and national security.