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The Federal Government supports the Europe-wide introduction of the automatic emergency call system eCall which is designed to make a significant contribution towards speeding up emergency response and making it more efficient in the future.
For Germany, as a key transit country, a standardized European solution is of great interest, as assistance could be provided much more quickely and more efficiently in the future.

What is eCall?

eCall (automatic emergency call) is a system which will automatically notify the local PSAP of car accidents via the mobile network. This process is triggered by a sensor in the air bag in the event of air bag deployment. The system transfers a minimal data set which, inter alia, includes the position of the vehicle. It also establishes a voice connection between the vehicle and the public safety answering point (PSAP). As a result, the necessary emergency response is initiated much faster than if the rescue services were alerted in the conventional way. However, even if the voice link is not established, for instance, because the vehicle occupants are injured, the local public safety answering point will be able to dispatch emergency services.

How are the accident data transmitted?

Data transmission via eCall (Source: ERTICO) - Link to an enlarged picture view in a new browser window
Data transmission via eCall

Source: ERTICO

eCall uses the Europe-wide 112 emergency telephone number. The position of the vehicle is ascertained with the help of the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). This will facilitate rapid location of the accident site. Then, it is possible to talk to the emergency operator via voice link.
Results of a field test carried out in several countries showed that in 90 per cent of all cases, a connection to the public safety answering point was established within 25 seconds and in 97 per cent it was established within 45 seconds.

eCall requirements

The Memorandum of Understanding for Realisation of Interoperable In-Vehicle eCall was submitted to the European Commission back in May 2004 within the context of the eSafety initiative and addresses mainly the automotive industry, mobile network operators, motoring associations, insurance companies and the EU member states. So far, the MoU has been signed by Germany, Austria, Finland, Sweden, Slovenia, Lithuania, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Romania, Malta, Luxembourg, Belgium, Denmark, Hungary, Latvia, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Croatia, Bulgaria, Ireland, Turkey and the European Automobile Manufacturers.

Three measures are to help implement eCall. The first measure is the adoption of the “Commission Recommendation of 8 September 2011 on support for an EU-wide eCall service in electronic communication networks for the transmission of in-vehicle emergency calls based on 112 (‘eCalls’) in national regulations”. This recommendation applies to the transmission of eCall emergency calls to the public safety answering points. Additional measures wehave been taken for the equipment of vehicles and the equipment of public safety answering points. Regarding the equipment of public safety answering points, the European Commission has issued a delegated regulation supplementing Directive 2010/40/EU of the European Parliament and the Council with regard to the harmonized provision for an interoperable EU-wide eCall. This delegated regulation represents the part of the European Commission's eCall strategy that affects the PSAP infrastructure. According to the European Parliament's decision of 15 April 2014, the equipment of public safety answering points must be implemented Europe-wide by 1 October 2017 and as stipulated in this Regulation. For the equipment of vehicles, the European Commission has drafted a Type Approval Regulation which is currently being negotiated in Brussels.

What about data protection?

Until now, an automatic emergency call has been offered by some manufacturers as a private service, a chargeable option, for premium class vehicles. This service is still available and continues to be offered. In this case, the manufacturers are responsible for complying with provisions governing data protection and informing consumers appropriately.

By issuing the relevant regulations, the European Commission has also created the essential prerequisites for the statutory installation of an in-vehicle eCall system in all newly type-approved vehicles, starting in October 2015. In addition, provisions have been adopted governing the equipment of public safety answering points for accepting and processing automatic emergency calls through the Europe-wide uniform 112 emergency telephone number. This is to pave the way for a standardized Europe-wide emergency call system. The previously mentioned regulations also make arrangements to ensure data protection.