eCall: Time for deployment
Although some progress has been made and agreements have been concluded between the various stakeholders as regards the implementation of eCall, the European Commission considers that deployment of this service is still limited. The Commission plans to adopt legislative measures in order to make eCall a reality for all European Union (EU) citizens as soon as possible.
Communication of 21 August 2009 from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - ‘eCall: Time for Deployment’ [COM(2009) 434 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This Communication reports on progress made in deploying eCall in Europe.
Operation of eCall is based on the principle defined in the 2005 Communication – Bringing eCall to Citizens.
In the event of an accident, in-vehicle sensors will automatically trigger an eCall. A voice connection is established with the European emergency number 112 and routed to the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). At the same time, an emergency message is sent, providing information such as the time, location and driving direction (Minimum Set of Data – MSD).
The system which processes MSD information enables the operator to hear what is happening in the vehicle and talk with the occupants of the vehicle if possible. Emergency services and equipment to be sent out can thus be better defined.
Progress and achievements
The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) has approved the MSD structure, and the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) has given its approval of the eCall discriminator which differentiates between 112 calls and eCalls, as well as between manual eCalls and those triggered automatically.
The protocols for sending the MSD from the vehicle to the PSAP operator, and pan-European eCall operating requirements have also been approved.
Commitments made by major stakeholders
Automotive manufacturers have committed to promoting eCall and have pledged to offer eCall as an option for new type-approved vehicles of certain categories.
The Member States have also agreed on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). It has been signed by 20 Member States and by Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Other Member States such as Poland and Ireland have also expressed their willingness to sign the MoU.
Regarding mobile network operators, a special task force has been formed by GSM Europe, the association representing them. This task force has offered to prepare eCall strategies and to contribute to its standardisation.
Deployment of eCall was initially planned for 2009. However, it has been considerably delayed. Simultaneous action by all stakeholders is needed in order to implement this service.
The Commission and Member States should make an active contribution to the work of the European eCall Implementation Platform so that all stakeholders participate in its deployment.
Coordinated awareness campaigns will be launched to increase understanding of and demand for the service.
If no significant progress is made, the Commission plans to take regulatory measures in 2010 such as:
- a Recommendation concerning Member States and mobile network operators;
- a Proposal for a Regulation on vehicle type-approval;
- a possible regulatory measure relating to the upgrading of the PSAP infrastructure.
In 2009, there were 35 000 deaths and more than 1.5 million injured on European Union roads. In the light of these figures, it is important to implement eCall as soon as possible. This would enable accident locations to be cleared quickly and thus contribute to reducing road congestion. This would lead to a reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Furthermore, this service could not only save up to 2 500 lives, but also mitigate the severity of injuries, reduce health costs and above all attenuate human suffering.