Monday, 02 May 2016 11:33

Emergency Triple Zero (000) calls from mobiles now easier to locate

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ACMA advises that calls to Triple Zero (000) from mobile phones now contain improved location information, following upgrades to the Triple Zero (000) service.

Of the 8.3 million calls made to Triple Zero (000) in 2014-15, ACMA says that 66.9%, or 5.6 million calls, were from mobile phones.

Acting ACMA Chairman, Richard Bean said: “Locating callers quickly in an emergency situation is vital, and I congratulate the mobile carriers and Emergency Services Organisations (ESOs) on this tremendous initiative.

“Optus, Vodafone, Telstra (in its capacity as mobile carrier, the emergency call provider and initial answering point for Triple Zero 000 calls) and ESOs have been working in partnership to upgrade their relevant systems,’ added Mr Bean.

Announced at a recent meeting of the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s Emergency Call Services Advisory Committee, ‘all ESOs throughout Australia have implemented functionality to automatically receive better information about the location of a mobile caller to Triple Zero (000).’

ACMA notes that, unlike fixed landline phones, ‘emergency calls from mobile phones have not previously been able to automatically give emergency services potentially helpful information about the caller’s location.’

Emergency services can now receive automated location information derived from the mobile networks for most phone calls to Triple Zero (000). In some circumstances, ACMA says ‘this will be a very helpful supplement to information provided verbally by the caller about their location.’

ACMA offers a backgrounder with additional information.

More below, please read on.

Backgrounder

Caller location can potentially be narrowed down to a radius ranging from 50 metres to 90 kilometres, with the degree of accuracy influenced by the number of base stations within a given handset’s vicinity.

Accuracy is greater in built-up and more urban areas where the majority of calls originate and less accurate but still useful where base station deployment is sparse, more likely in rural or remote areas.

The ACMA regulates and monitors the provision of the emergency call service under the Telecommunications (Emergency Call Service) Determination 2009 (the Determination). The Determination imposes obligations upon the emergency call service provider, telecommunications carriers and carriage service providers.

The Triple Zero (000) emergency call service uses an operator-assisted telephone service which connects callers to police, fire or ambulance in life threatening or time critical situations.

Telstra as the emergency call service provider for Triple Zero (000) continues to perform above the regulatory requirement for answering emergency calls. In 2014-15, 98.7% of calls were answered within 10 seconds against a target of 95%.

Triple Zero (000) is the primary emergency service number in Australia and can be dialled from any fixed or mobile phone and certain VoIP services. The Triple Zero (000) emergency call service is currently a voice call service.

Callers are asked for information about the location of the emergency to assist in transferring the call to the appropriate state or territory emergency service organisation co-ordination centre for it to despatch the police, fire or ambulance closest to the caller in the shortest possible time.

Australia’s Triple Zero Awareness Working Group released a mobile smart phone app, Emergency +, in December 2013 for iOS and Android and recent Windows handsets to take advantage of handset GPS capability. The app shows users GPS coordinates which can then be verbally passed on to emergency services.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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