Europe is ahead of the United States in providing emergency notifications of crashes. The eCall initiative in Europe requires cars to call for emergency help in new cars starting in April 2018. Even if no passenger is able to speak, data is sent, which includes the exact location of the crash site. eCall cuts emergency services response time. In the United States car owners have to either rely on pay services such as OnStar or Ford 911 to automatically call for help. A new device made for eCall in Europe by Bosch could be a godsend for accidents in the United States, eventually.
The Bosch Retrofit eCall plug is a smart sensor plug with USB port that uses acceleration sensors and intelligent embedded algorithms to detect an accident and then send data to a smartphone app via Bluetooth. This data is sent to a back-end IT system that can determine actions, such as a call center calling the driver to provide assistance, or in extreme cases making an emergency call.
The Retrofit eCall is a cost-effective solution and plugs into a standard 12V DC socket. This solution could even work for old cars that had cigarette lighters.
The current U.S. system of 911 calls for emergency probably is not ready for the device as it currently works. However, some states now have Text-to-911. Text-to-911 is currently only available in certain markets where 911 call centers, also known as Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs), have elected to accept emergency text messages from the public.
In a joint agreement with the Association of Public Safety Communications and the National Emergency Number Association AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon have voluntarily committed to provide text-to-911 service by May 15, 2014 in all areas served by their networks where a 911 call center is prepared to receive texts. Implementation of this agreement will take some time, as 911 call centers become equipped and trained to receive text messages.
Text-to-911 is especially important for people who are hard of hearing. Maybe in the future such a device could be adapted to safely contact emergency responders in the United States. When someone is injured, it is very difficult to call 911.
The new Bosch Retrofit eCall plug is already available in Germany today.
On 28 April 2015 the European Parliament voted for eCall regulation which requires all new cars be equipped with eCall technology from April 2018. eCall will be seamlessly functioning throughout Europe by that time. In the event of a serious accident, eCall automatically dials 112 – Europe’s single emergency number.