112, Europe's single emergency number is helping people and saving lives every day across 28 countries However, there is significant room for improvement in key areas like caller location and access for disabled people according to a Commission report published on the occasion of European 112 Day.
Data gathered from national authorities shows:
- No improvement in implementing more accurate caller location: Cell ID/Sector ID is a standard location requirement in Europe for mobile networks and can give the location of a caller to between 30 meters and tens of kilometres. Despite the existence of this and other (more accurate) caller location solutions, member states have made no progress in applying them to 112 calls.
- Excessive delays for Emergency Services to receive caller location: Caller location has to be provided together with the call to the emergency service in order to make the emergency intervention more efficient. However this information is received after an excessively long time in in France (several minutes), Malta (5-10 minutes) and Greece (34 min. 56 s). It has to be noted that Austria, Czech Republic, Latvia, Portugal and Slovakia did not report data on the average time needed for receiving the caller location by the 112 operator.
The Commission will soon launch a pilot project analysing the transmission of caller location data from smartphones to 112 emergency call centres, following a request from the European Parliament. Even though many smartphone apps, such as maps, use satellite location data to identify the location of the user, the same smartphone cannot currently send user location information to emergency services when a person dials 112. Automatic transmission of satellite location data, using Galileo and EGNOS in Europe, would speed up emergency services' response time and save lives.
In addition, the European Commission is encouraging Member States to step up their efforts on caller location. It has supported the work of the Electronic Communications Committee (part of CEPT, which coordinates European state telecoms and postal administrations), which recently provided guidance for national administrations to improve caller location.
The report also showed that
- Access to 112 for disabled callers did not improve significantly: 22 Member States said reported that alternative ways of making 112 calls (real-time text, sms, video streaming) were in place. Users can contact 112 emergency centres via SMS in 18 member states and there are plans to make this possibility available in 3 member states (BG, PL and MT)
- Quick response time: 20 Member States reported less than 10 seconds for the answer time needed to get in contact with emergency services (best performing member states are BG, HR, CZ, FI, HU, IE, NL, PT, RO, SL, ES, UK). This best practice should be followed by others in terms of both the performance and the ability to monitor it.
The Commission is also calling on Member States to develop measuring tools monitoring these indicators in order to optimise their 112 systems.
February 11th is the European 112 Day, a day aimed at attracting public attention to safety and security in Europe.
In the past years, the European Commission has worked with travel operators to publicise the 112 services to those who travel through Europe.
The Commission has also produced promotional material (including logos, posters, banners, quizzes for children etc.) that can be used by public administrations or any other organization to boost 112-awareness.
112 is also being used in countries outside the EU, such as Switzerland, Iceland and Turkey.