The Next Generation 112 (NG112) architecture is the future of modern, interoperable emergency services. Its most important contribution for localization services, is that its technical specification standardize how location data is carried, formatted, and retrieved and provide the foundation for additional location mechanisms.
Its implementation will improve localization services for a faster, more accurate dispatch and rescue. But how will it play out in real life? What will change for landline, mobile and app calls?
Before comparting each tool and technology it is important to note that NG112 or NG 9-1-1 technology is not a localization service or mechanism. What it does is provide betters routing capabilities, resulting in better information for the PSAP and the on-field rescuers.
This is the least impacted medium in the transition to NG112 capabilities. Classic landline phones have a set location, and the localization information is very clear. The provider will simply add the address details when it forwards the call to the ESInet. The PSAP may also request the information later (when communicating with a dispatched vehicle).
A big improvement brought by NG112 is indoor location for enterprises and large buildings: technology providers are preparing to commercialize technologies capable of mapping offices, stores, even across multi-floor buildings, to allow precise locations even inside skyscrapers, shopping malls and similar locations.
2. Smartphone calls
Most emergency calls today are made using a smart or mobile device and initiated via the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM). GMS technology does not have the ability to include additional data, such as the call location, therefore the position is retrieved through other resources, such as cell tower position or cell tower triangulation which may be inaccurate. This limit was overcome with additional tools, the most important one being Advanced Mobile Loclization (AML). These over-the-top additional technologies however have their own challenges, such as a difficult implementation policy as it often needs to be approved by each country.
What will change with the new NG112 architecture? Everything. NG112 leverages VoLTE and the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) for emergency calls. This new structure will include richer data, without the need for additional tools (such as apps or AML). The new communication will already include the precise information on the call origin, without relying on other network resources such as cell towers.
It is worth noting that this new system can transmit different type of data, including (but not limited to) multimedia files, text, video, and chat. This not only sends the precise location, but also it can include pictures of the street /building, a video call to better visualize the emergency and assess the actual citizen need. If the caller is moving, the PSAP will be able to track the position of the smartphone in time and space.
3. Emergency Apps
Apps revolutionized the way PSAPs can localize emergencies. It is today the most accurate way to retrieve the caller position. Apps use the phone’s APIs to trigger an emergency call; additional data is transmitted using an over-the-top approach as the smartphone serves as an internet access point to connect with backend services specific to each app vendor. All in all, emergency apps leverage the same capabilities and Advanced Mobile Location, but they can provide advanced services (such as chat) which are not available to AML.
The advent of NG112 technology and protocols will improve the mobile call service, and apps will change their usage paradigm: regular voice calls will be able to transmit the information that we now can only send via apps. Using Voice over LTE (VoLTE), the smartphone will automatically determine and transmit its location data when dialing an emergency call. With the transition to the new system emergency apps will change their main goal, from main source of geolocation to new technological interfaces (e.g., integrate with other sensors or systems).
Although we now have different technologies to help identify the caller location, none can send data as well and as completely as the Next Generation 112 technology. Its implementation will be a giant leap for emergency services, improving the safety and response for citizens and rescuers alike.