112 & AML: The cheaper, more accurate way to save lives

Flickr/Nina A.J.

Belgian police car, the first responders to an AML/112 call

112 & AML: The cheaper, more accurate way to save lives


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On Jan. 10, a eight-year-old Lithuanian boy saved his father’s life by unknowingly using Advanced Mobile Location (AML) services when he called the 112 European emergency number.

The Lithuanian emergency response team first received a call from the boy at 14:48, who was too shaken by his father’s epileptic attack to tell the operator his address.

AML technology allowed police to pinpoint the boy’s location with an error radius of 6 meters, allowing police to arrive on the scene in time to save the father’s life. Cell-ID services, the location service technology of yesteryear, was only able to narrow down the call to a median radius of 14 kilometers – the amount of space between the atomium and Brussels Airport.

The pilot project, which has successfully been launched in the United Kingdom, Austria and Lithuania, has allowed 112 emergency services to “arrive faster,” saving more lives.

“We’ve waited years for this technology, and now we have it,” John Medland, the creator of AML, said.

AML success stories, like that of the Lithuanian boy and his father, have bolstered the confidence of other EU member states – eight other countries are now implementing AML into their emergency response system at the low cost of 10.000 to 50.000 euros.

Combined with AML location services, the pan-European emergency number is more effective than ever.

“As someone who travels between Prague, Luxembourg and Belgium often, it’s good to know I only have to remember one number if I need help,” Commissioner Dita Charanzova said.

The process behind AML

AML is best understood as a direct pathway between a caller’s smartphone to a public safety answering point (PSAP), or emergency services. The technology immediately turns on GNSS and WiFi services to collect the latitude and longitude of the caller from Google servers, sending the information directly to an operator after the 112 number is called. AML will work without data or WiFi if the caller is outside. 

That means your local authorities will know your location within 20 seconds of your 112 call, without any vocal assistance. Without AML, the process takes 210 seconds.

“In an emergency, people panic and make stupid mistakes,” Theo Bertram, manager of policy strategy EMEA for Google, said. “The moment an emergency is happening, the last thing you want is to be uncertain.”

Google has been an enthusiastic partner of AML since its birth in 2014. The conglomerate has added AML into every Android phone since then – at the moment, 99.3% of Androids in circulation today have the technology imbedded within the phone.

Unfortunately, iPhones, flip phones and landlines are not currently compatible with AML, although Medland revealed there have been discussions with Apple.

The choice to activate AML, however, rests entirely on the EU member state.

It’s up to member states to determine if they can actually accommodate these calls, not companies,” Bertram.

Italy, as well as eight other member states, is in the midst of activating AML alongside their current emergency services.

 

A cheap change to save lives

According to Gary Machado, Executive Director of the European Emergency Number Association (EENA), AML comes at a cheap price tag of €10.000 to €50.000.

“Otherwise [AML alternatives] will result in hundreds of millions of euros for the EU,” Machado said.

Medland clarified that the price is determined by the PSAP system of the member state, making it slightly more expensive for states like Austria and Germany to add AML then states like the United Kingdom.

AML is also open standard technology – Medland did not seek a patent or claim AML as his own invention. It is free and available for any country to implement.

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