The EU is looking to make its eCall vehicle emergency call system mandatory by 2014.
The move comes as voluntary adoption of the service has not been successful since the initiative was introduced a decade ago.
Mark Gentle, partner and transport practice head at Analysys Mason, said: ’Twenty EU member countries and three other European countries have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
‘The EC has a target of 2014 for full deployment, meaning all public safety answering points (PSAPs) must be equipped to handle eCall and, significantly, all new vehicles sold in the EU must be sold eCall ready.’
However, Gentle said two exceptions to the MoU are France and the UK. ‘In 2006, the Department for Transport commissioned an independent review, which concluded the benefits of the system could not justify the expense. As such, the UK has not made it mandatory for all new vehicles to be fitted with eCall.
However, the infrastructure is in place in the UK to allow emergency services to respond to eCalls.’
Gentle explained that the eCall is a European-wide scheme for all new vehicles to be fitted with a ‘black box, which allows the occupant of the vehicle to make an emergency call and, at the same time, send a packet of data giving precise information on the vehicle, its location and direction of travel. The control unit can also monitor the vehicle’s systems and, if it senses airbag deployment, it can make the emergency call automatically.
The eCall system uses the GSM network to facilitate both the voice and data elements ofthe call. To ensure the two parts remain tied together, an in-band modem is required (in vehicle, and at the PSAPs), which transmits the voice and data elements over the same channel.
The EU estimates the Europe-wide implementation of eCall could save 2,500 lives per year.