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When every second counts, eCall is your Guardian

Dec 10, 2018

After a traffic accident, a few seconds can decide the outcome of a serious injury. With the eCall implementation coordinated by AustriaTech, the time until the emergency services are notified can significantly be shortened.

Victims of traffic accidents sometimes have serious injuries, are unconscious and therefore not always able to notify the rescue services themselves. The newly introduced eCall technology noticeably reduces the risk of such scenarios. This is because the technology, which has been harmonized throughout Europe, stipulates that sensors similar to those used in airbags automatically trigger an emergency call and send a minimum set of data including the direction of travel, coordinates and probably number of occupants to a control center. The emergency call can also be triggered manually using a button on the console.

Concrete features of the mandatory eCall implementation became tangible in 2010 with the EU ITS Directive. The directive is intended to ensure that the technology is introduced interoperably and harmonized throughout Europe. Only if the emergency call can be processed equally in Austria, France or the Netherlands, regardless of the country of origin of the vehicle and its occupants, an improvement can be expected for road users. "Being involved in turning specifications, interfaces, laws and technical specifications into a service for people that massively increases road safety is a great thing," says Julia E. Düh, Senior Expert at AustriaTech, summing up the development of the implementation.

Together with the Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology and the Federal Ministry of the Interior, a reliable system was implemented. "We tested and documented many scenarios in detail," explains Düh. "The efficient cooperation with the national actors helped us in particular, as many different competencies were necessary.

Since the beginning of March 2018, equipment for newly typed vehicles has been mandatory. In addition to the implementation of the automobile manufacturers, however, the telecommunications infrastructure as well as the operations centres of emergency (Public Service Answering Point - PSAP) had to be prepared and equipped. In the course of this, AustriaTech set up a project partly funded by the EU to support the implementation of the eCall infrastructure on time. Düh, project manager of eCall.at says: "Against the background of the challenging starting position with a tight timeframe and many parallel processes, we can be proud of what we have achieved. ECall was made available in Austria on time on 1 October 2017, which puts us in a great place among European comparison."

"One year after the successful implementation of the eCall infrastructure, the European Commission and industry are now making efforts to extend the Europe-wide eCall service to other user groups. This applies above all to buses, trucks and the transport of dangerous goods. The application for motorised two-wheelers is already in the test phase," explains Düh. Aspects such as the use of new communication technologies and the retrofitting of older vehicles will also be included in the further development. To this end, technical specifications and Europe-wide specifications are being worked on. The aim is to allow the largest possible group of road users to participate in the benefits of the European eCall service.

eCall is expected to reduce the number of road fatalities across the EU by 10%. AustriaTech will continue to monitor and support this development in the coming years.

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