eCall based on 112, will be a reality in 18 months’ time. On 28 April 2015 the European Parliament voted in favour of the eCall regulation requiring all new types of M1 and N1 vehicles (passenger cars and light duty vehicles) be equipped with eCall technology from 31st March 2018. Despite nuances and concerns raised by the vote (such as privacy issues), eCall is a success story driven in many aspects by the ERTICO Partnership.

What is the background history of 112-based eCall?

The European Union supported the development of eCall based 112, first through the eMerge and GST Rescue European Commission funded projects, which were both led by ERTICO-ITS-Europe, and latterly its pre-deployment through HeERO that developed the pan-European in-vehicle emergency call service – “eCall” – based on 112, the common European Emergency number.  This was coupled with the eSafety forum, iCar Support and iMobility Support, which were all European Commission funded initiatives that assisted in the deployment of eCall based on 112, both at a Political, and Technical level.

eCall a partner’s involvement

In conversation with Mr Rasmus Lindholm ERTICO ITS-Europe Director of Partnership and Communications, discusses with Mr Marcel Visser, Global Account Manager Automotive at Gemalto and Member of the ERTICO Supervisory Board the involvement of ERTICO and the ERTICO Partnership in the development of eCall for Europe.

ecallanimationMarcel Visser: “We have come a long way since 2010, when we (Gemalto) launched the first eCall trial products and organised demos for awareness campaigns such as the eSafety Challenge in Madrid and Millbrook” Marcel Visser, explained. “In Madrid, we held a demonstration on eCall together with RACC and DENSO as well as the police services; a few months later, in July, the annual eSafety event in Millbrook gathered more than 300 delegates together and raised a large media interest. Those events showed the clear benefits of having eCall based on 112 in Europe, and the need to pursue the full implementation of the system in Europe”.

Rasmus Lindholm: “We worked with the ERTICO Partners to strengthen the Memorandum of Understanding originally signed in 2003 with the European Commission on a harmonised provision for an interoperable EU-wide emergency number. In January 2011 we hosted a workshop on the continuation of private emergency call services already implemented by some vehicle manufacturers for their customers, where Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) were informed about emergencies through private Service Providers. We needed to enlarge the scope, and the occasion came through the pre-deployment pilot projects HeERO and its successor HeERO2 which looked at eCall implementation in 15 member states. Both projects were funded by the European Commission, DG Information Society under the ICT Policy Support Programme – Competitiveness and Innovation Framework, Theme 1 for HeERO (Smart Mobility and Theme 4 ICT for Innovative government and public services, which continued the significant commitment and support shown by both the European Parliament and the European Commission towards eCall deployment in Europe

Marcel Visser: “In the same year, Gemalto integrated the latest version of the 3GPP/ETSI in-band technology standard in its automotive cellular modules (Cinterion TM). Multiple MSDs (Minimum Set of Data) were quickly and successfully transmitted from the Cinterion module embedded in DENSO’s In-Vehicle-System to an eCall PSAP in-band modem. This was a great success and a tangible example of the ERTICO Partnership relevance in moving eCall forward”.

Can you tell us about the collaborative work with other countries and how car manufacturers abroad could also prepare themselves?

Rasmus Lindholm: “Many successful events and workshops were organised in the Member States and the topic of eCall rose in many of these States´ political agendas, eCall soon becoming a cross-border discussion. In March 2011, cooperation with Russian counterpart ERA-GLONASS started with the set-up of a working group on both systems´ harmonisation, this was an ERTICO sponsored working group supported by the European Commission through iCar Support and latterly iMobility Support.

The working group focused very much on sharing best practices in areas such as In-Vehicle-System development, telecom solutions, operational procedures and pilot testing” Rasmus Lindholm explained. “The final goal was to deploy a fully interoperable system with an eCall terminal and a GPS/GLONASS receiver in new vehicles by 2015-2017”.

Marcel Visser: “In 2012, the increasing interest and fast developments in eCall as well as the need to bring carmakers and providers together to supply eCall-equipped products to the European markets led to the 1st ETSI/ERTICO eCall interoperability test which took place at the MIRA (former innovITS ADVANCE) ground facility in Nuneaton, UK. Companies involved included DENSO, Gemalto, TRL, and PMN. They tested the 112-emergency system by connecting the pilot site’s private GSM network to an external eCall PSAP. This event was held under the auspices of the HeERO project, co-funded by the European Commission.

By working together in a proactive manner, the technical partners of this self-funded project demonstrated that the European automotive industry supply chain was ready to embrace all test and certification needs for eCall. This 2012 interoperability test was the first of many others to come. Just a year later, Japan held the first eCall testing outside Europe”.

In January 2013, Gemalto announced its collaboration with Yokosuka Telecom Research Park Inc. (YRP), FUJITSU TEN, and ERTICO to launch Japan’s first testing facility to help OEMs meet the European Union’s emergency response standards, allowing Japanese automakers to test solutions aimed for the European market locally. Gemalto provided its Cinterion® Machine-to-Machine (M2M) automotive modules and Machine Identification Modules (MIMs) technologies to enable communications and GPS positioning for all trial scenarios. The FUJITSU TEN and YRP test bed featured In-Vehicle-System (IVS) units leveraging Gemalto technology compliant with eCall European test cases”.

logo_eCall.jpgRasmus Lindholm: “Japan’s interest in eCall was reiterated during the 20th ITS World Congress in Tokyo and kept growing.  ERTICO eCall experts assisted in the development of a specific testing environment at the Yokosuka testing facility near Tokyo, as Japan do not use 2G communication equipment. Following this collaborative work, which was supported by the European Commission funded project HeERO2, the Japanese Government commissioned a full report on eCall deployment in Europe. Early 2013, in Europe 6 new countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey) joined the HeERO project consortium of the 9 existing countries. The EC funded HeERO phase 2 project – HeERO2 – focused on bringing these new countries to the same level as the initial HeERO Member States, as well as examining alternative models for the reception and management of eCall, whether it is based on 112 or a private eCall provider.

How do you address a variety of countries? Are you participating at common events, with just one voice?

Marcel Visser: “The ITS Congresses represent the perfect occasion to show the latest developments in technologies to the industry community, policymakers and public in general. In 2014, the iMobility Support project held a live demonstration at the ITS European Congress in Helsinki; three vehicles demonstrated both the European eCall system based on the 112 emergency number and the Russian ERA-GLONASS system. This was made possible thanks to the cooperation of VTT and GLONASS Union with the technical support of FUJITSU TEN and Gemalto”.

What is the future of HeERO2?

ecallRasmus Lindholm: “We are now successfully technically directing the European Union Connected Europe Facility funded project I_HeERO.  The European Commission funded project assisting with the deployment of EU-wide eCall which builds on skills and knowledge of HeERO and HeERO2, with an important addition: the “I” stands for “Infrastructure”. I_HeEROS’ goal is to prepare the PSAPs in Member States for the deployment of 112-based eCall as reference implementations. I_HeERO addresses explicitly the PSAP element of the eCall roll-out and will enable it to install hardware and software solutions that fit the necessary requirements within each Member State”.

I_HeERO is a unique project, bringing together Member States to consider their legal obligations to upgrade their Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) systems, and to be at the very forefront of eCall developments. ERTICO was chosen as technical lead for this project thanks to its unique skills and experts. The result is the largest most ambitious project ever supervised by the Innovations and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) which is an agency of the European Commission

Marcel Visser: “Once it is fully deployed, eCall will provide accurate location data that should lead to a higher efficiency of the rescue chain by providing faster medical care for road accidents victims. It has been estimated that the use of eCall can reduce the number of severe road injuries and fatalities by 5-15%”. Such expected results naturally motivate all involved partners and we hope for further developments in the next months.”

Rasmus Lindholm: “I think ERTICO proved the importance of eCall over the past years. All our achievements wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication of our Partners, and the active support of the European Parliament, the European Commission, its agencies and Member States. The cooperation between all parties in facilitating the testing events and workshops has been inspiring for all of us and motivated us greatly in moving ahead. ERTICO has acted as a facilitator in the whole process, in a strong partnership with the European Commission, but the real driving forces have been our Partners.” ERTICO – with support of Gemalto and through the strong leadership of Marcel Visser – has been at the forefront of eCall development and now owns deeply knowledgeable experts and world leaders in the field of eCall deployment. This has drawn new Partners into the ERTICO network, looking for the expertise that ERTICO offers on eCall and its forthcoming deployment.

What’s coming next?

Rasmus Lindholm: “In parallel to the eCall development, we also focus on new activities which position Partners as leading forces; an example is the MaaS (Mobility as a Service) Alliance. The concept of MaaS was fully developed in Helsinki at the 10th ITS European Congress in 2014 thanks to the strong involvement of the Finnish Ministry for Transport and Communications. MaaS is everywhere with activities and national initiatives sprouting worldwide. The MaaS Alliance represents a unique opportunity for our Partners, the ITS community and the organisations involved in mobility as a whole to create a unified platform to facilitate a single, open market and full deployment of MaaS services. This can happen only with a constructive dialogue and cooperation between all parties (service providers, local governments, telecommunications, transport operators, and users), which is ultimately the reason why ERTICO was created over 20 years ago”.

ERTICO is now leading the way in the development of future eCall enhancements through the European Commission funded I_HeERO project. These include:

  • – eCall for Heavy Goods Vehicles, which is supported by the logistic community and many Member States. eCall for powered two wheeled vehicles, -a project led by ERTICO partners BOSCH, Honda and BMW which is without doubt the most complex eCall solution to be attempted.
  • Alternative forms of communication are also in development, such as ComSat for eCall where the communication infrastructure will not support 2G or 3G, especially in countries where mobile phone signal is limited. This work is being led by ERTICO Partner Satellite Catapult.
  • What will eCall of the future look like and how will this fit into the new communication strategies. ERTICO is guiding this work in conjunction with the I_HeERO project, with direct input from ETSI 3GGP and CEN.

From 2002, ERTICO has consistently been at the forefront of the development of eCall, with the European Parliament and the European Commission and Member States, from a fledgling technology to a full scale European deployment. The skills and lessons learned from eCall, are now being utilised across other ITS technologies such as MaaS to ensure that ERTICO remains at the very forefront of the ITS industry.


Visit the I_HeERO website.