In the last 12 months we have seen several tragedies that many people believe could have been prevented by better caller location systems being used as part of emergency services systems.
Many caller location systems are indeed out of date, and the leaders responsible for changing that are from national governments. At the request of national governments this remains their legal responsibility, not the EU’s.
Here are the full details. The European Commission has nothing to hide.
"Member States are responsible to set caller location criteria and the Commission is urging them to bring these criteria in line with the technological solutions available on the market. Since it’s the sole responsibility of the Member States authorities the Commission does not have the power to set the criteria. This has been recognised also by the European Parliament. In its recent opinion on the Connected Continent proposal IMCO committee has proposed to enhance competences of the Commission."
- The Universal Service directive allows for the adoption by the Commission of technical implementing measures which provide effective access to emergency services. However, these technical implementing measures cannot cover the adoption of caller location criteria as this power was expressly entrusted to competent authorities of the Member States.
- The Commission keeps the need of improvement of caller location high on its agenda. In the COCOM reports, based on the data gathering from Member States, the Commission is gathering the data on caller location requirements in Member States, recognising the need for improving caller location and reminding Member States of their obligation.
- In this context, last year, in reply to the letter of the Romanian minister for health, Mr Nicolaescu, Vice-President Kroes informed on the need for national authorities to lay down caller location criteria. In particular she informed on the ongoing work in CEPT (European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations) on this topic which is supported by the Commission
- In the case of Lithuania the Commission currently investigates the availability of caller location
- In response to the rising demand for more accurate caller location and more efficient emergency relief intervention, the CEPT set up the dedicated Project Team Emergency Services (PT ES) which brings together national emergency services experts in order to look into the technical aspects of the implementation of caller location accuracy solutions. The Commission welcomes the stated goal of PT ES to provide a report on caller location accuracy and reliability criteria. This report may contain technical recommendations which aim at the implementation of higher accuracy and reliability by the relevant national authorities. Therefore, the Commission is strongly supporting the technical work undertaken by CEPT on caller location accuracy and reliability criteria.
- The Commission proposed already to include the analysis of caller location criteria in the 2014 BEREC work programme because in most Member States the NRA’s are competent in establishing caller location accuracy and reliability requirements in relation with electronic communication service providers, in particular MNOs. BEREC accepted the item on its work programme following this proposal.
- The Commission also takes note of the IMCO proposal regarding the TSM amendments vesting the Commission with the power of adopting delegated act concerning caller location
Q & A to answer some of the most frequent questions that arise on this issue
- The Commission is not planning to adopt mandatory EU level caller location criteria?
According to Article 26 of the Universal Service Directive the Commission can adopt technical implementing measures but these cannot cover criteria for accuracy and reliability of the caller location provided. The power to define such criteria is expressly entrusted to competent authorities from Member States. Establishing criteria for the accuracy and reliability of caller location would provide substantive rules to Article 26 which goes beyond the meaning of technical implementing measures which the Commission is empowered to adopt.
The amendments of the European Parliament’s IMCO committee to the TSM proposal recognised this lack of competence by expressly providing for new competences for the Commission, including the right to adopt caller location criteria. It remains to be seen whether this will be adopted in the final version.
- Why the Commission have started no infringement proceedings on 112 since 2010?
Legally speaking caller location is available in all member states, thanks to the strong enforcement efforts of the Commission in 2006-2010. Currently the caller location requirements have to be set by Member States, and according to the information reported to the Commission, in case of mobile networks this is Cell ID which has a radius between 100meters and 10 km. Currently the Commission does not have legal basis to force Member States to adopt more accurate caller location criteria, however it supports the CEPT in drafting a guidance document to help spread more accurate location technologies.
- Why is CEPT preparing the technical assessment of caller location technologies and not the Commission or BEREC
The CEPT initiative started in 2012 and gathered a significant pool of experts on 112 from EU and EEA member states. Furthermore, a special project team - Project Team Emergency Services (PT ES) - was set up in April 2013 to provide the technical expertise for drafting the technical report on caller location. There is no need to duplicate this work as the task of PT ES is advancing in a satisfactory way. Commission experts are attending the PT ES work.
- Who are represented in the CEPT project team? Why aren’t solution providers and stakeholders represented?
The drafting rights in the CEPT project team are exercised by the CEPT members. These are represented by national experts on emergency services. The goal, structure and content of the report is decided by these experts. It is up to the Project Team Emergency Services to decide at what stage of the work will invite the emergency services (demand side for caller location), electronic communication service providers (supply side for caller location) and solution providers (supply side for caller location technologies). This does not mean that these stakeholders cannot contribute to the work of PT ES. Given the vested interests of these groups of stakeholders, and the need for an objective, technological neutral assessment of the available technologies, it is considered that such a staged approach would fit the best the nature of the analysis.
More elements for your own info
- Legal basis
- Directive 2009/136/EC amended Article 26 on the Single European emergency call number of the Universal Service Directive 2002/22/EC by extending the obligations of Member States regarding access to emergency services. Article 26 paragraph 5 reinforces the obligation to provide caller location: “Member States shall ensure that undertakings concerned make caller location information available free of charge to the authority handling emergency calls as soon as the call reaches that authority. This shall apply to all calls to the single European emergency call number “112”. Member States may extend this obligation to cover calls to national emergency numbers. Competent regulatory authorities shall lay down criteria for the accuracy and reliability of the caller location information provided.” Furthermore, in accordance with paragraph 7, the Commission may adopt technical implementing measures to ensure effective access to “112” services in the Member States.
- Commission action
- The provisions on caller location is subject to the Commission’s scrutiny in the compliance assessment of the notified legislation. In addition to the legislation notified via the formal channels, the data gathering exercise which was conducted on the basis on the 112 COCOM Questionnaire gives further clarification on the status of transposition of the revised provisions. 2 years after the transposition deadline the vast majority of member states failed to report accuracy and reliability criteria implemented by their respective NRAs. According to the COCOM’s Report on the Implementation of 112, automatic caller location information provided to emergency centres is currently limited to Cell-ID only. This technology may be deemed inaccurate (its accuracy could range to several km in some areas) and with little value in locating callers in need of assistance. On the other hand, in other part of the world high-accuracy location is being already implemented. In the United States for a large majority of calls made to the North-American emergency number 911 since the regulatory authority (FCC) has defined caller-location accuracy requirements for e911 (For network-based location solutions: 100 meters for 67 per cent of calls, 300 meters for 95 per cent of calls; For handset-based location solutions: 50 meters for 67 per cent of calls, 150 meters for 95 per cent of calls.)
- Problem definition
- The EGEA meetings held in 2012 pointed out the fact that caller location accuracy and reliability requirements in Europe are well below what the technical possibilities are currently allowing for in a cost efficient manner. Based on this input the Commission organised a dedicated workshop on caller location accuracy and reliability criteria with the participation of Member States experts, technical solution providers and MNOs. The goal of the workshop was to build common understanding on requirements for accuracy and reliability of caller location information.
- The conclusion of the workshop was that there is a need for a demand side analysis where Member States should look into the requirements of their own emergency organisations on accuracy and reliability of caller location information. This analysis is closely linked to the capacity of information processing of the PSAPs. Such analysis has to be backed by a supply side analysis looking into MNO’s possibilities/plans on provision of services of accuracy and reliability of the caller location information.
- The technology on both sides is offered by the solution providers. The Commission has strong signals that high-accuracy location technology is available in the market, ready to be deployed. In term of implementation of these technologies, the roles are share between the private sector (MNOs) – delivering the data –, and the public sector (Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) and the emergency system network) – reading the data. As in the case of eCall implementation of new technologies entail investments in technological upgrade on both sides, electronic communication service providers and PSAPs
- Next steps
- In response to the rising demand for more accurate caller location and more efficient emergency relief intervention, the CEPT set up the of the dedicated Project Team Emergency Services (PT ES) which brings together national emergency services experts in order to look into the technical aspects of the implementation of caller location accuracy solutions. The stated goal of PT ES is to provide a report on caller location accuracy and reliability criteria. This report may contain technical recommendations which aim at the implementation of higher accuracy and reliability by the relevant national authorities.
- At this point DG CONNECT services’ involvement is to incentivise Member States’ experts (for instance the Expert Group on Emergency Access) to actively participate in the works of PT ES.
- The CEPT report could be the basis of the work item in BEREC. Therefore the Commission proposed to include the analysis of caller location criteria in the 2014 BEREC work programme because in most Member States the NRA’s are competent in establishing caller location accuracy and reliability requirements in relation with electronic communication service providers, in particular MNOs. BEREC accepted the proposal, as it would be the appropriate fora to evaluate the implementation of technological upgrade in public finances systems of the PSAPs and emergency system networks.
- TSM amendments in IMCO
The IMCO proposal provides at art 26(7):
"In order to ensure the effective access to "112" services in the Member States, the Commission, having consulted BEREC, shall be empowered to adopt delegated acts in accordance with Article 37a concerning caller location criteria and key performance indicators on access to 112." – which would allow the Commission to adopt EU-wide caller location criteria.
Lithuanian case investigation
- The Commission was informed, via two citizen complaints, as well as from press, about a recent tragic event leading to a loss of life on 21 September 2013 in the Panevezys district. The Commission has written with concerns to the Lithunian Governments and is waiting for the translation of the reply from the Lithunaian governments (as of 10 Feb)