Improving response to emergencies on the road

Driving can be hazardous something millions of people around the world have the misfortune of experiencing every year. Thankfully many countries and regions have realised the importance of establishing Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) or centralised call centres that immediately dispatch help from the nearest police fire ambulance or emergency road services when needed.

With a PSAP infrastructure in place a person in need of help can dial the European emergency phone number “112” to reach a trained operator who can assess the situation and dispatch the nearest appropriate services. But what happens in the case of road emergencies when a distressed driver is physically limited? Or worse unconscious and unable to operate his or her cell phone? It’s a dilemma industry coalitions such as ERTICO Europe’s Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) organisation ITS Russia and many other government and ITS industry leaders around the globe are working hard to address.

A global precedent is set: The European eCall initiative

Several years ago the European Commission introduced eCall a groundbreaking initiative intended to bring rapid and automatic assistance to motorists involved in an incident anywhere in the European Union (EU). The world is watching as ERTICO and its member organisations race to develop and implement new technologies and strategies to meet the eCall mandate. eCall’s success hinges on two key elements: a widely distributed PSAP infrastructure and installed or embedded Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication devices in all vehicles. The in-vehicle M2M system must be able to automatically dial 112 in the event of a serious road incident and reliably communicate over wireless networks details such as timestamp of the incident cause of activation vehicle VIN number GPS coordinates and other details known collectively as “the minimum set of data.” A project of this magnitude implemented widely across all EU countries takes unprecedented collaboration across a complex ecosystem of government agencies automobile manufacturers and leading ITS and M2M technology companies.

ERTICO and the HeERO response

To meet the challenge of developing an interoperable Pan-European eCall program ERTICO and its member organisations designed and launched the Harmonised European eCall Pilot programme otherwise known as HeERO. The program has developed interoperable eCall programmes in participating EU regions and it will synchronise systems across country and network borders. The HeERO pilot which began in 2011 and will continue through 2013 has already been successfully pre-deployed in several regions using 112 as the pan-European PSAP emergency call number. The HeERO pilot program is testing a solution that uses a Cinterion module to automatically establish a two-way emergency call to the PSAP call centre immediately following an incident. The Cinterion module reliably sends the minimum set of data from vehicle sensors to local emergency agencies via cellular networks. The data helps the early responders to be fully informed as they arrive at the scene of an incident. The module also establishes an automatic hands-free voice call so PSAP staff can gather more information to help determine which emergency services need to be dispatched to the incident site.

Based on early results of HeERO The European Commission estimated in a May 2011 report that eCall is expected to reduce emergency response times by 50 percent in rural areas and 40 percent in urban areas saving countless lives as well as up to €14 billion in the EU 25 annually!

A closer look at Romania: Civitronic and Cinterion a HeEROic team

Romania was among the first EU countries to successfully administer the HeERO pilot. The first step toward success was updating the country’s PSAP system. Working together ITS Romania and Civitronic one of Romania’s leading system integrators on the HeERO pilot selected global M2M technology leader Cinterion as its communications partner. Cinterion has a proven track record of successful eCall demonstrations plus a long history of supplying ruggedized automotive-grade M2M solutions for telematics and other in-vehicle M2M technology. During the infrastructure upgrade a Cinterion-enabled PSAP reference solution was used for testing with great reliability and success. Due to lack of timely available reference solutions Cinterion’s AH3 module and development kit were used and became essential to achieving the successful upgrade of the PSAP system within the original estimated timeframe. Completed in 2011 Romania’s PSAP system is currently operational in much of the country. Eight other EU nations are executing similar pilots hoping to replicate Romania’s success by the end of 2013.

Simultaneous to Romania’s PSAP infrastructure upgrade Civitronic also collaborated with Cinterion to design and launch the “ubiq eCall IVS Solution” an In-Vehicle Solution (IVS) that provides the minimum set of data compliant to the EU norm as well as advanced fleet management services. Civitronic’s ubiq eCall IVS integrates Cinterion’s automotive-grade AH3 that provides cellular voice data and Internet connectivity GPS capabilities and eCall functionality from one component. The AH3 is built to last for the long life of modern vehicles and performs reliably under the most extreme automotive environments of heat vibration and moisture.

The Cinterion-powered Civitronic IVS enables a suite of fleet management features that optimise dispatch operations and routes travelled. It also manages vehicle maintenance to ensure peak performance while it keeps vehicles and drivers connected across country borders and over wide geographical areas. The integrated GPS receiver provides precise location speed and heading information. Automatic EU 112 eCall-compliant services are activated when associated vehicle sensors are triggered. The ubiq eCall IVS solution was designed for power economy using the vehicle’s power supply for continuous operation without the need of replacing or recharging
batteries. The solution is quickly and easily deployed through a standard 12/24 volt power supply without the need of additional cables or external parts.

The solution was tested in Romania and will soon be used for PSAP testing in other pre-deployment projects throughout Europe.

The Super Heroes of Intelligent Transport – global collaboration partnership and wireless M2M technology

Wireless M2M-powered public safety and eCall solutions provide peace of mind for consumers while better enabling emergency service personnel to respond to life’s dangerous moments. Cinterion’s M2M technology delivers immediate automated connectivity for all wireless networks – from CDMA and GPRS/EDGE up to 3G technologies like UMTS and HSPA+ – ensuring ubiquitous and reliable communication in emergencies.

Civitronic’s ubiq eCall In-Vehicle Solution is easy to install in any vehicle and facilitates more efficient testing of PSAPs and eCall systems during Europe’s HeERO pre-deployment. And Cinterion is leading the way to advanced IVS systems and e-mobility with its high-quality products and services that offer reliable and secure communications while simplifying the complex M2M ecosystem.

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Original Publication Date: Wed 13 Jun 2012