Why the UK Needs Mobile Geolocation for 112 Right Now

Fletch: Hey. It’s Fletch with the Avaya Podcast Network. Welcome to this addition of TechTalk. Joining me today is Markus Bornheim, who’s the Public Safety Consulting Architect over in Europe. Markus welcome.

Markus Bornheim: Hey. Welcome Fletch.

Fletch: Also joining us is a brand new member to the team. Adrian Brookes, or I should say Officer Brookes, out of London. Welcome.

Adrian Brookes: Hi Fletch. Welcome.

Fletch: We’ll get to that in just a second. Public safety is constantly expanding at Avaya. We’re doing a lot of work in the global market, especially over in Europe. Markus, what are we doing over in EU as far as some of our public safety offers?

Markus Bornheim: What we are recently doing is running a lot of technologies into the PSAPs, so it’s the telephony platform that we have been dealing with historically. When we were … not when we were Avaya, and when we were Tenovis, so that’s quite a huge installed customer base in every country with different systems.

What we’re going to do in the future is bring these systems to life in a next-generation environment, which allows us much more, and much easier, to collaborate with people calling to emergency services through different media, and different channels.

Fletch: Yeah. It’s becoming more of a multimedia environment, right? So, this is where our contact center technology kind of really kicks in, where we can deal with that multimedia aspect of people that need assistance.

Markus Bornheim: Yes, in fact that’s true. Currently, my impression is that many of the authorities are basically quite blind behind the voice call, and they need to ask a lot of questions about getting a precise picture on what is happening on scene. This definitely can be changed by bringing in other media in the future. Bringing in location-aware services, and all these kinds of things that make life easier.

Fletch: Yeah. Public safety is kind of a unique market, and if you haven’t been in that market, if you haven’t worked in that field, I don’t think you can see a lot of value. That’s one of the reasons that we brought on Adrian. Adrian you’re a constable in the UK. Correct?

Adrian Brookes: That’s right. Yes. For 20 years now I’ve been a warranted police officer, as well as working in technology industry, so I’ve got some practical, real horror stories of being at the front line.

Related article: How to Improve 112, the EU’s Emergency Dispatch Number

Fletch: Give us an example of some of those … some of the inefficiencies that exist out there in public safety today.

Adrian Brookes: Hopefully, you would have all been aware recently of the flooding that we had in the UK. I actually police in the Southeastern area of the UK, the one that was hit the most severely by the flooding.

One of the examples we had, I was on, was called Response Patrol. We respond to the 911, the 112, or the 999 calls that are coming in. We’re the first point of interaction between the caller who’s requesting assistance, and some form of the help being given to them.

We had a call come in. It came in at just after 10:00 o’clock at night in Sussex, and it was a female who was distressed. She was actually stuck in a field. She’d inadvertently taken a turn in her vehicle, and driven into a farmer’s field, and driven into a whole load of mud where the water was rising.

The water was rising at quite a fast rate. This is in some respects a lifesaving environment, but we had to find her. She put the call in. The call came through to the Sussex contact center, and they couldn’t locate her.

She had an idea of where she was because her TomTom was telling her that she was in a specific village. We were the closest unit. We are actually on scene in just over a minute. The problem being though, she wasn’t where she thought she was. She was being given inaccurate information from her TomTom.

It then took the combined services of the police and other agencies, over two-and-a-half hours to find that lady. When the lady was found, she was distressed. She was cold. She was wet, and she had a really poor view of the help that she had summoned.

That’s just one of the environments that we’ve been in where there’s lots of technology around, but people aren’t using it. People aren’t piecing that together to actually find out how we can assist those people.

Fletch: I think we get a little spoiled over here in the States where we’ve got … or I should say, we think we have fairly good cell phone accuracy, but as it turns out that accuracy is not quite as good as we thought it was. It’s nowhere near what you don’t have over across the pond, right? You guys basically have nothing over there at this point.

Adrian Brookes: We can locate a phone when we have a missing person. We can at some point throughout the investigation, then turn around and say, “We need to do the mobile record logs,” but we have to get a warrant. In the UK, that’s called RIPA warrant. That has to be signed not only by a superintendent, or a very senior police official, but it has to be countersigned by a magistrate. This is all down to basically your human rights, the Human Rights Act in the UK.

What the affect it actually has, it just delays us getting the information that is readily available. One of the things we’ve actually resorted to doing is saying to people, if they’re using an iPhone, “Can we have your Apple ID and password?” Because we can actually get the location from “Find My iPhone.”

That’s a ridiculous place to be as a police officer standing in the middle of an environment trying to render assistance to somebody.

Fletch: Yeah, especially when you’re asking somebody for their Apple ID and password. Good golly. I could only imagine what’s going through people’s heads.

When you deal with mobile technology, over here we have OnStar, which is an in-vehicle crash notification system. Over in Europe we’re making some progress … EENA is making some progress with what’s called eCall. Right Markus?

Markus Bornheim: Yes. That’s true.

Fletch: What are we doing with the eCall infrastructure over there?

Markus Bornheim: The eCall is something that is mandatory from probably October 2015 onwards. When this is in place, it’s a Pan-European initiative driven by the European Parliament and Commission.

When this is in place, we will have the capability to automatically raise an alarm call when a car is involved in an accident. This, of course, is getting a very quick notification to emergency services. This is a voice call to 112 basically, and through the open voice channel delivering information about where the car is based on GPS, the vehicle identification number of the car so you know what that car is, and potentially also about the number of people sitting in the car.

Fletch: So there’s a minimum set of data, or an MSD, that’s actually transmitting.

Markus Bornheim: Correct. Yeah. This is the case. It’s an upfront to the communication. It’s transmitted automatically, and once that information is passed over to the public safety answering point, the call is then switched to voice mode, and the call taker can start talking to the people in the car.

Fletch: It’s delivered kind of through an in-band technology, which is a little archaic in today’s age, but being archaic, it’s also very compatible with almost any device that’s out there.

Markus Bornheim: Well, I think it’s robust. I think this is something that we need to consider. Robustness, over technology that is already 20 years in place, is something that can be very compelling in new networks that will be rolled out. Not saying that this is the final stage, but we would see also the mobile service providers networks move to IP overall also for voice.

We will also see that new elements, and new protocols are going to be developed as a next-generation eCall kind of approach to be delivered maybe in 10 years from now.

Fletch: Sure. Next-generation 112 services are certainly on the front page of what European Emergency Number Association, or EENA, is doing. In fact, we’ve got a conference coming up in Warsaw, Poland. Adrian, I heard you just got travel approval to join us over there.

Adrian Brookes: Yeah. I did, but I’m not in the same hotels as you guys. Yeah. I will be there. One of the things I’m going to be doing there is meeting up with the British Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (B-APCO) representatives.
That’s a UK organization that is trying to put together really some awareness to the various forces, but then to the application providers out there. Trying to pull the two of them together. As an example, 67% of the calls that come to emergency services in the UK are from mobile phones.

It basically equates to about 75,000 calls per day. On average, when that call comes in from a mobile user, it’s actually taking 30 seconds longer before the dispatcher can actually dispatch help to them. That’s because they’re trying to figure out where they are.

One of the things that we’re trying to do with B-APCO is to really raise awareness with the application providers with the forces themselves. Trying to reduce that time. London Ambulance Service found that 4,000 calls a month take more than three-and-a-half minutes before they can dispatch help to that person because they’re trying to find out where they are. Why can’t we just get that information?

Fletch: Wait, wait. You’re saying that it takes three-and-a-half minutes just to figure out where to dispatch the call?

Adrian Brookes: Exactly. London is a multicultural city. People are coming in. They don’t know where they are. They don’t know where to look for the road signs.

If they have an accident, and they’re from out-of-town, you’re in a completely different environment. You don’t know where you are. A lot of things that the contact center agents are trained to do is try to get them to pick out landmarks.

Things like “Find my iPhone” can pinpoint you within a 2- to 5-meter environment. We’re still having to ask people, “Can you describe what you can see?” “Where are you?”

Fletch: Where the biggest problem is you people drive on the wrong side of the street Adrian. That’s the root cause.

Adrian Brookes: Let’s just have a little think about that one. Which country’s got the longest history?

Fletch: There you go. I give.

Adrian Brookes: Yeah.

Fletch: Well it will be great to finally meet you over in Warsaw. Markus it will be fantastic. We met last year at the EENA conference in Riga, Latvia, and we’ve done quite a bit over the last year.

The team keeps growing, and growing. I’m really excited. There’s a lot of great opportunities over in Europe, and it’s really exciting to see the Avaya technology being put to use in several environments over there.

Thanks very much for joining me guys. Markus, we’ll see you shortly. Adrian welcome to the team.

Markus Bornheim: Yes, and Adrian, don’t worry about the wrong hotel, just give us your Apple ID and password. We’ll locate you.

Adrian Brookes: Yeah. I don’t think that’s going to happen, guys.

Fletch: Good one. Take care, guys. Have a great day.


Want more technology, news and information from Avaya? Be sure to check out the Avaya Podcast Network landing page at http://avaya.com/APN. There, you will find additional podcasts from industry events, such as Avaya Evolutions and INTEROP, as well as other informative series by the APN staff.

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