Accelerating Expansion of In-Vehicle eCall to Emergency Responders Across Europe
Solution Designed to Overcome Technical, Jurisdictional, Cost Barriers To Deployment
ATX Group, one of the leading providers of in-vehicle, location-based services to the global automotive industry, unveiled today at CeBIT 2010 an innovative proposal to help accelerate deployment of the European Commission's initiative to enable vehicles to automatically notify local emergency responders in the event of a crash and pinpoint the location of the emergency from anywhere within the continent.
ATX's proposed self-dispatching approach to managing location-enabled emergency calls (eCalls) from vehicles, whether activated by a motorist depressing an in-vehicle emergency button or by in-vehicle equipment automatically dialing upon airbag deployment, combines the two approaches to eCall deployment recognized by the European Commission. ATX proposes using one approach, which relies upon a telematics or Third-Party Service Provider (TPSP) to move the voice call from the car to the TPSP via SMS technology and in-vehicle satellite positioning technology. The calls would then be screened by specially trained TPSP call takers fluent in the native language of the motorist, to identify and re-prioritize non-emergencies. Confirmed emergencies would then be relayed to the 1-1-2 emergency number relevant to the area of the crash with the minimum set of data specified by the Commission via an automated voice in the native language of the 1-1-2 call takers. The focus of the Commission's second approach entails directing the call into local 1-1-2 response centers. Based on the scope of the eCall data received, the automated messages could also convey additional crash severity information as well as the access code to a Web portal with the associated data.
This proposed self-dispatching eCall solution overcomes many of the most difficult hurdles that have deterred deployment for nearly a decade:
-- The solution doesn't require any costly system upgrades within the
myriad of local emergency response centers or PSAPs (public safety
answering points), which have varying levels of technical capability
in their infrastructures, protocols in their operations and training,
and funding available for system enhancements and/or integration with
a pan-European 1-1-2 emergency network.
-- A major hallmark of the self-dispatching approach is that it can
accommodate either an in-band or SMS technical solution for linking
the vehicle and PSAP, which has often been at the heart of a technical
debate in setting cross-border standards.
-- Perhaps its most critical factor is its low cost, particularly when
viewed in terms of its technical functionality over the lifetime of
the vehicle. Its reliance on data communications significantly reduces
the two principal costs encountered in agreements with third-party
service providers - the cost of staffing a 24x7x365 call center and
wireless communications costs.
"This is a solution designed to be flexible, providing the practical need to ensure that the voice and data portions of every eCall are transmitted to the same PSAP as well as continually maintaining and enhancing positioning algorithms and PSAP databases," said Arnaud de Meulemeester, ATX managing director in Europe.
The self-dispatch approach offers a significant advantage to vehicle manufacturers because it provides a thin client approach. Complexity is moved from the in-vehicle head unit to the telematic service provider's servers, thereby ensuring that updated software or algorithms do not leave legacy vehicles with incompatible systems. Automobile manufacturers also maintain greater control on the routing of call and data and receive value in retaining eCall statistics.
The self-dispatching approach also incorporates the dramatic advances in interactive and automated voice response technologies that were unproven when the European eCall process began nearly a decade ago. Text-to-speech conversion is now well developed and market proven among the growing number of connected vehicles, providing a viable solution to cross-border language issues, relying less on the need to continually upgrade in-vehicle hardware and data storage or having to invest in the overhead of a TSP with native-language calltakers based in each EU member state.
The emergence of personal Web sites associated with ownership of a "connected" vehicle also offers greater potential for third-party centers to append customer-provided emergency data that is of interest to emergency medical response personnel.
"Our primary objective is to take what ATX has learned from more than a decade of service in two regions (Europe and North America) and ensure flexibility for future solutions," said de Meulemeester. "Tomorrow, it is very likely emergency responders will want even more data -- more personal and more detailed positioning data on vehicle occupants as well as more data on circumstances prior to impact."
"The technology is available in the market today, providing flexible eCall solutions that can work in any car and in any European country," said de Meulemeester. "It is time for a paradigm shift on eCall: one that recognizes market realities while quickly achieving the overarching goal saving more lives on European roadways."
More details on ATX's self-dispatching eCall solution are available in a white paper posted at www.atxg.com/europe.
With operations in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, and representative offices in Paris, France, and Dusseldorf, Germany, ATX (www.atxg.com) is one of the world's leading providers of customized connected vehicles (telematics) services to global automobile manufacturers. ATX services, among the first to be launched in the consumer vehicle market back in 1996, are provided to vehicle owners through the brand names of its customers: Toyota, Lexus, BMW, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Mercedes-Benz Canada, and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.
Services by ATX provide enhanced safety, security and driving convenience to vehicle owners, and include location-specific emergency and roadside assistance, automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle recovery, remote diagnostics, and real-time traffic and navigation assistance. ATX also customizes services to help automobile manufacturers and their affiliated dealerships use telematics data and multiple customer contact channels to reduce costs, enhance vehicle servicing, and more closely manage customer relationships and contacts with the vehicle through its lifetime.
ATX has a heritage of partnering with European-based automakers to introduce innovative, Web-based services, having helped pioneer the first in-vehicle access to online content in 2001 and the first download of online content to a vehicle in 2008.
ATX is a division of Cross Country Automotive Services (www.crosscountry-auto.com), a leading provider of location-based automotive services.