The integration of existing on-board technologies and communication networks in a new automated and integrated way can improve the notification of road accidents or other emergencies, speeding up emergency service response and saving lives.
To date, some vehicle manufacturers and telematics service providers are already providing a proprietary vehicle emergency call service (eCall). However, there has so far been no common technical solution, and services do not (generally) offer roaming when abroad.
Procedures and arrangements further down the service chain to the network operator, thence to an emergency call centre and finally to the emergency service itself vary greatly from country to country, which is why E-MERGE was initiated to create a pan-European in-vehicle emergency system..
The overall aim of the E-MERGE project was to ensure the availability and functioning of vehicle based emergency call systems from any vehicle anywhere in Europe. The key objective was therefore to develop, test and validate common specifications for the vehicle emergency call at all levels in the vehicle emergency call chain and to investigate the technical, organisational and business structure for Europe-wide take-up of the solution.
The other main objectives were to remove current cross-border and language problems so as to have an interoperable solution covering the whole of Europe and including all European vehicle manufacturers.
In this setting, E-MERGE set out several targets:
- Secure higher quality of life and health for European citizens by ensuring that the vehicle Emergency call service works throughout Europe, not only limiting itself to the country of a potential selected service provider.
- Support existing European policy objectives with technological development of a common in-vehicle and central system for handling eCall’s when travelling across Europe and securing thus that Emergency call services is available for everybody, anywhere and at any time.
- Enhance the user-friendliness of the information society by extending availability of eCall services in European countries;
- Create European added value for the vehicle manufacturers, Service Providers (SPs) and Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) with the establishment of a common European vehicle Emergency call application that opens the way for offering not only Emergency call services but also additional services like route information, interactivity with the driver e.g. simultaneous monitoring and high speed warnings.
Besides this, the project aims were to support existing European policy on casualty reduction by enabling the emergency services to get to the incident scene as soon as possible by using the most efficient itinerary and utilising the “Golden Hour” principle to achieve a reduction in the severity of casualties.
Here, it should be noted that a complete and working product/standard was not the scope of E-MERGE. The project aimed to deliver the concept for the in-vehicle eCall standard and to demonstrate the concept. With this in mind, this means that no validation is done in relation to whether E112 and/or the E-MERGE solution is covering every inch of Europe; whether E
The project was organised around 6 key activities:
- User Needs. This first step involved the definition of the system requirements and the creation of an E-Merge business plan. This Step was set up to define and investigate the functionalities based on a user point of view and all actors involved (Vehicle manufacturer, retrofit system manufacturer, eCall Service Centre, PSAP, emergency agencies, local authorities, Insurance companies, GSM providers etc.). The output gave the E-Merge project a unique set of user preferences and requirements ensuring a wanted and functional system.
- Specification of System. This involved the definition of the system's requirements. A generic system architecture was defined and site-specific options where chosen for the system definition and thereby gave the recommendations to reach a common optimal vehicle system specification. From this, a common architecture was defined for interface and interoperability amongst eCall service centres and between eCall service centres and PSAPs.
- System development. This step consisted in developing prototypes and defining potential necessary adaptations of technology and systems at the vehicle manufacturers, eCall Service centres and PSAPs/emergency agencies. This Step also compiled and developed eCall data and communication network for eCall service centres.
- Trials. Trials were conducted on test sites, each site carrying out site-specific management tasks such as implementing the E-Merge system and validated the interoperability. Trials were carried out in six different sites across Europe.
- Validation. The next task was to carry out the evaluation of the trial results. At first the evaluation methodology and the indicators were defined. Each site then gathered the evaluation data. These data where processed to derive the compiled evaluation conclusions. Elements for final E-Merge business plans were also provided.
- Awareness programme. A communication of actions undertaken was present throughout the project to present the results achieved at the various stages of the life of the project. Indeed one of the key objectives was to raise the awareness of Vehicle Manufacturers, eCall service centres, PSAPs, Public Authorities and Emergency agencies about the existence of the E-Merge concept.
The work performed by the E-Merge project led successfully to the following main results:
1. Final compilation of user requirements and state of the art;
2. Testing and validation of the specifications for the interface between in-vehicle eCall system and PSAP at pan-European level;
This result consisted in defining, specifying and agreeing on this interface. The interface specifications ensured the ability to initiate the in-vehicle eCall via specific in-vehicle sensors and to transmit the voice and defined data message to the same PSAP operator using the GTP protocol. The specification ensured interoperability between different in-vehicle systems and PSAP systems. Here, the interoperability was ensured by using 112 as the calling number and by sending the minimum set of data as “data in the voice channel”.
3. Testing and validation of the specifications for the interface between PSAP and Service Provider at pan-European level;
Recommendations have been given for the content and development of SP specific databases and data content. Additionally, the interface between the SP and the PSAP has been specified, implemented and tested to ensure that PSAPs can retrieve information in a common way from various SPs across Europe. It has been decided to use the HTML “get” command to create a standard interface for the PSAP request for FSD. Finally, specification on how the PSAP operator, on the basis of the contact information received in the MSD, can contact the SP operator to initiate a conference call and thus retrieve language support if needed, were created.
4. Specifications for the Minimum Set of Data (MSD);
The specification of the minimum set of data was created by the emergency agencies that participated in the project. These specifications were set on the basis of the information the emergency agencies would need to make a correct response and to speed up the response time. The definition of the MSD was made in close co-operation with the vehicle makers. The minimum set of data has been coded using the GTP protocol. The minimum set of data consists of the following information that will be forwarded, together with the voice call, to the PSAP operator when receiving an in-vehicle eCall:
5. Specifications on how to transmit MSD as data in the 112 voice channel;
According to the communication architecture a
Technical recommendations were made based on test validation and test-site visits and Business Case recommendations.
Based on the project’s investigations, a full-scale deployment of the E-Merge system is expected to lead to a decrease in fatalities and severe injuries in traffic accidents as follows:
- Fatality: 5% reduction
- Severe Injuries: 10% reduction to light injuries
- Light Injuries: No positive effect foreseen
That level of reduction would mean 2000 lives saved each year and a saving of nearly €4 billion each year in related social and health costs and lost “public” income calculated for the European Community.
With the E-Merge tests successfully completed, deployment now depends on the coordinated adoption of the architecture. However, Member States must ensure in the first stage the complete implementation of E112 in Europe. Secondly, PSAPs will then need to upgrade their E112 solution to handle also the E-MERGE minimum set of data.
The project consortium has identified three potential paths to deployment for the E-Merge eCall solution:
- A preferred volunteer approach involving all stakeholder groups where deployment is ensured through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with clear deployment targets. This approach is currently taken within the eSafety Forum Driving Group eCall;
- If the volunteer approach fails or is seen as delaying the process, an alternative approach could be that Member States and the EC create a directive on eCall; or
- Alternatively or in addition to this, the deployment process could be accelerated if an extra star in the European New Car Assessment Programme (EuroNCAP) for telematics safety services was introduced with eCall as the first telematics safety service.