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Automatic emergency calls for vehicle accidents


Crash! Bang! Crunch! That was the noise of your glasses breaking as your head hit the inflating airbag! Picture a typical road accident scenario. What’s happened? What do you do next?

With luck, within 5 minutes you’ll be compos mentis enough to call for help on your mobile phone. But what if you’re unconscious or have broken your wrist? This is the scenario in which a new e-call system proposed under the IST project E-MERGE will come into its own.

Automatic alerts to emergency operator

Very soon, most new vehicle manufacturers will offer as an option an in-vehicle communication system that will automatically call the emergency services (the e-call) on your behalf, tell them your location, in which direction you were travelling, and how serious the accident.

Fiction? No, E-MERGE project participants believe this system could be in operation as soon as 2008. The first successful e-call tests were carried out in Sweden at the beginning of September 2003, when an in-vehicle system in a Volvo generated a 112 voice call to the Swedish emergency operator, as well as transmitting the minimum set of location and vehicle ID data.

"We are now doing the final testing in five European countries," says project coordinator Michael Nielsen of Ertico. "This is to make sure that e-call works fully across EU national borders - so that the system in, say, a Belgian vehicle still works properly if it is involved in an accident in Denmark."

E-call requires a vehicle to be equipped with inbuilt GSM communications, a GPS satellite location system and a simple database. Any accident then automatically alerts the local emergency operator using the 112 service, at which point the basic location and vehicle ID information is supplied to the operator without any action on the driver’s part.

Certain supplementary information such as insurance company, preferred garage and who in your family to contact can also be obtained by the emergency operator from the vehicle’s home national database. However access to this additional information is subject to prior agreement by the driver.

Saving time saves lives

Says Nielsen, "The unique advantage of this system is the automatic call to the emergency services without any delay. We have all heard of the importance of that ’golden hour’, of receiving medical attention as soon as possible after an accident. E-call can help reduce injuries, reduce the seriousness of injuries and save lives."


Michael Nielsen
Avenue Louise 326
B-1050 Brussels
Tel: +32-2-4000749
Fax: +32-2-4000701

Tara Morris | IST Results
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