Minister of broadcasting, communications, and digital media Kris Faafoi has launched a revamp of New Zealand's emergency caller location information (ECLI) service.
Datacom, which developed the ECLI system, will work with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to enhance the service to provide precise geo-location information for 95 per cent of emergency 111 smartphone calls, amongst other improvements.
“Emergency services have told us that the location service is already making a huge difference," Faafoi said.
"Being able to quickly verify callers’ locations means emergency services can be dispatched more quickly and reach those who need help sooner – which can make a huge difference to the outcome of an emergency situation.”
Last month Faafoi introduced another measure to provide extra protection for vulnerable people needing to make 111 calls on fibre lines in the event of a power cut.
Each year there are more than a million calls to emergency services, said Greg Davidson, group CEO of Datacom Group.
"In many cases callers are lost and don’t know where they are, or are unable to share that information due to disability or injury," he said. "Quick and precise caller location can be the difference between being rescued safely, or someone being in a potentially life threatening situation."
At the centre of the ECLI system is the location area service (LAS).
When a person dials 111 on their mobile phone the best available location is automatically sent to LAS, which processes the information and provides it to emergency services to assist in verifying a caller's location.
LAS is built on Datacom’s own services, including its SMS gateway, all-of-government infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and its telecommunications-as-a-service (TaaS) platforms.
These allow custom API integration with all of New Zealand’s mobile networks, including Google Android and Apple’s iOS smartphones.
In the first 12 months since its launch in May 2017, the ECLI system was used to help verify locations of nearly 400,000 emergency calls.
When enhancements are completed by mid-2020 it is expected that a high-precision location (within 50 metres) will be provided for 95 per cent of 111 calls from smartphones with the rest providing lower precision between 50 and 2000 metres.
Ben Quay, ECLI programme director at MBIE said the service has had real impact on improving the safety of New Zealanders.
The system supports today’s 3G networks and tomorrow’s 4G LTE voice networks, with extension to support future 5G networks.