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Caller location for emergency communications

Caller location is one of the most important contextual data that is provided automatically to emergency services when an emergency communication is initiated by a citizen.

Caller location is one of the most important contextual data that is provided automatically to emergency services when an emergency communication is initiated by a citizen. To intervene successfully, emergency services need to know exactly where the incident happens. Member states have to ensure that caller location is available to the national public safety answering points in line with the European Electronic Communications Code.

When an emergency communication is initiated  from a smartphone, the location of the caller is established based on the position of the caller’s handset (which makes use of Galileo data), and sent to the emergency services, allowing them to locate the person calling quickly and accurately.

The swiftness of emergency services is a critical factor to saving lives and thanks to Galileo, an EU citizen calling the emergency number from a smartphone will be located with improved location accuracy, which will make the rescue efforts more efficient.

The Delegated Regulation 2019/320Search for available translations of the preceding  which requires smartphone manufacturers to support technical solutions for the reception and processing of Wi-Fi data, and data from Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) compatible and interoperable with at least the Galileo system for the purpose of making emergency communications from the smartphones more effective. This means that all new smartphones sold in the EU internal market will need to be Galileo-enabled.

This measure is based on Article 3(3)(g) of the Radio Equipment Directive 2014/53/EU, which provides that the Commission is empowered to adopt delegated acts, on categories or classes of radio equipment in order to ensure that radio equipment support certain features ensuring access to emergency services.

The Delegated Regulation will start to apply as of March 2022.

What is AML ?

Advanced Mobile Location (AML) is a handset-derived caller location technology that can be used to implement the Delegated Regulation 2019/320. It was identified as the most effective positioning technology in the frame of HELP 112, a 12-month pilot project funded by the European Commission

The project evaluated various positioning technologies to improve the location of emergency callers by investigating alternative solutions to establish caller location and to transmit it to the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). One of the main findings was that AML brings significant improvements to the location accuracy, namely reduces its radius from several kilometres up to several metres. The improvements in the accuracy are attributed to GNSS, or Wi-Fi data, when GNSS signals are not available, e.g. in indoor locations.

How does AML work?

It is a smartphone functionality that is automatically triggered when a call to an emergency number such as 112 is placed.

AML is not an app and there is no need to install anything by the user. If GNSS or Wi-Fi is not enabled, AML will turn it on and it will turn it back off after the call is finished. Once the location of the person calling is established, it is sent by an SMS or HTTPS message to the public-safety answering point (PSAP).

AML does not replace the existing provision of network-based location (Cell-ID) by mobile network operators, but simply provides additional and more accurate location information where technically possible (where GNSS or Wi-Fi coverage is available).

Following the HELP 112 pilot, the European Commission funded a subsequent project, focusing on full-scale rollout of AML in several Member States. The HELP 112 II project ran for 18 months and resulted in a successful deployment of AML in Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Portugal and Sweden.

As part of the project, a cost-benefit analysis of the impact of AML deployment in the EU has been carried out. It found that on average AML saves between 14 and 45 seconds per emergency call and improves the location accuracy from 4,6 times up to 17,9 times.

The analysis also estimated that the number of lives impacted by AML (i.e. either when lives are saved or when the seriousness of the injury is mitigated) will range from 5.3 to 18.7 out of every 100,000 relevant calls during the first 9 years after the deployment.