Magazine / Emergency & Crisis Management Apr 26, 2021 9:30:00 AM

eCall: the technology and its roadmap

Road accidents are a major cause of injury and death; prompt and effective intervention by emergency services is crucial to saving lives. To solve the problem of rapid response, Europe studied a new technology that could automate emergency calls in the event of a crash or incident: Accident Emergency Call, abbreviated in eCall.

eCall works by automatically sending a notification and establishing a voice channel between passengers and emergency services, namely 112 PSAPs. eCall can also be activated manually by a passenger if the crash or incident is not severe but emergency personnel still need to be called.

What is eCall?

With eCall we refer to automatic or manual calls generated from a sensor inside the vehicle. The call is made to a designated 112 PSAP, establishing a channel between the car occupants and the call taker. The call simultaneously includes the vehicle data such as position, direction of travel, time etc. to provide the rescues services with detailed information to rapidly reach the incident. All of this is possible thanks to the European standardization of the vehicles and the technology.

How did eCall implementation begin?

The first step was the 2011 HeERO project, followed by its evolution iHeERO in 2014. The two projects examined the the technology and its application and standardization to apply it in all European and pan European states. Hundreds of public and private entities took part in the study and trials: from vehicle manufacturer to developers to government authorities. It was a massive effort to gather data and insights. This innovation and evolution led to the resolution that made eCall technology mandatory in all vehicles produced after 2018.

How does the technology look like?

The eCall device consists of a simple GPS locator and a sim card inside the car which, thanks to software, communicate with each other and with the airbag activation control unit. While the driver talks to the operator, eCall transmits the coordinates of the accident site via GPS technology. The Commission estimates that eCall could speed up emergency response times by 40 percent in urban areas and 50 percent in extra-urban areas, saving up to 2,500 lives a year.

eCall and Next Generation

With the implementation of the ESInet, emergency services will be able to collect and transfer data in a more complex and structured manner. eCall exchange procedures with the 112 PSAP are still subject to a degree of technological limitations. Next Generation will take away these problems by using a new way to collect and route data, improving network discovery. This will be very useful for cross border exchanges. We give an example in this article.

Beta 80

Beta 80 has been involved in eCall development projects since 2011, partaking in both in the European "HeERO” project with AREU, Magneti Marelli, Centro Ricerche Fiat, TIM, and the Italian pilot project which installed and tested for the first time eCall functions for the 112 PSAP in Varese.

Between 2015-2017 Beta 80 directed Chapter 4 of the new European project “I_HeERO”, dedicated to the future generation of eCall (heavy vehicles, motorcycles) and to data exchange methodologies between entities involved in a road accident.

Always at the forefront and recognized as a leader in the field, Beta 80 offers a complete solution for eCall (in-band modem) for 112 PSAPs, with successful installations throughout Europe and the Middle East.

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