The TRA: The UAE, first nation in the region to implement the eCall initiative
The General Authority for Regulating the Telecommunications Sector (TRA) announced that it has considered the implementation of the new ‘eCall’ system. This positions the UAE as the first in the region to implement this initiative, which will automatically enable vehicles to call emergency services for help if involved in traffic accidents. In order to ensure network readiness, TÜV Rheinland Middle East, a global leader in independent testing and inspection, examined the mobile networks and confirmed that they are eCall ready.
“This is a major milestone for the UAE, adding to the record of our achievements at the national level. It has proven that the infrastructure of the licensed mobile networks is able to accommodate innovative services such as the automatic eCall system. As such, connecting the vehicle with the competent authorities in the event of any road accidents. The eCall system is here to save lives, as it reduces the time to alert rescue services due to its supreme location accuracy. In addition to automatic calls, it also specifies the incident location with high accuracy. The TRA is delighted to consider the introduction of an eCall system within the nation, as an absolute necessity, in order to drastically reduce the amount of fatalities in road accidents and to achieve the 2021 goal of zero road fatalities,” said H.E. Eng. Majid Sultan Al Mesmar, TRA Acting Director General.
The TRA has allowed TÜV Rheinland Middle East in cooperation with NavCert, the global eCall laboratory, to conduct an assessment testing the mobile networks operated by Etisalat and du. The report results have confirmed that both networks are eCall ready.
The eCall readiness of du and Etisalat was evaluated during January – February 2015 with respect to conformity and performance. The assessment was done with reference to international standards without disturbing the existing infrastructure. NavCert used state of the art simulators, used in more than 40 organisations and 25 countries to perform thousands of test calls during the survey. The survey covered more than 5,000 km of the UAE’s roads, including all seven Emirates, the Western Region and major highways. The measured values of du and Etisalat were compared to those of other mobile networks to allow a fair assessment of the performance and functionality of the UAE’s mobile networks, which proved sufficient performance of eCall functionality.
“The nation’s mobile phone networks are based on the latest global technologies and technical standards. They are continuously and periodically updated, to remain compatible with the latest technological developments such as eCall, and in line with the vision of the UAE leadership, to be proactive in all areas. And in order to ensure the readiness of the network, TÜV Rheinland, as a global resource, actioned the necessary tests to authorize the readiness of the UAE networks,” said Eng. Saif bin Ghalaita, TRA Director of Technology Development Department, project manager.
He clarified that eCall provides a mechanism for automatically connecting the car to the authorities handling emergency situations. It is an electronic safety system enabling a car to automatically call emergency services in case of an accident. Once the eCall device in the car senses a severe impact during an accident, it automatically initiates an emergency call to the nearest emergency centre and transmits the exact geographic location of the accident scene and other data. Whether the call is made manually or automatically, there will always be a voice connection between the vehicle and the emergency call centre in addition to the automatic data link. In this way any car occupant capable of answering questions can provide the call centre with additional details of the accident just like a standard emergency call.
Additional information sent by the system to the emergency center may include, accurate and comprehensive details of the incident site, as well as to determine the type of vehicle and whether it was carrying hazardous materials. The eCall system can also be integrated with other entities responsible for roads and traffic safety systems, so as to obtain more accurate results and updates, with regards to the ongoing road incidents.
For the successful implementation of eCall in the UAE, cooperation between the Ministry of Interior, vehicle manufacturers and the TRA is essential, making the integration of the system mandatory in all vehicles. Etisalat and du will also play an integral role in analysing the project and auctioning plans through the next phase of implementing the initiative.