Emergency Caller Location Information (ECLI)

New Zealand has developed the Emergency Caller Location Information (ECLI) Service. The Service enables Public Safety Organisations (PSOs) to receive automatically generated geographical information about the location of a caller when an emergency call is connected to a mobile cellular network, from any mobile device. ECLI saves lives by decreasing the time taken to verify location and reduce the average dispatch time to incidents, with controls in place to protect callers’ personal information.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

Every year millions of calls are made to emergency services and around 80% of them (and growing) are from mobile devices. In many cases callers do not know where they are, or they are unable to provide their location. Previously, where callers were unable to give an accurate location, emergency services call centres would have to request location information directly from the Mobile Network Operators (MNO). This process was slow, manual and limited to the location of the cell tower the device was last connected to, often with a very broad inaccurate location.

As way of addressing the problem, the New Zealand Government gave their approval for an upgraded Emergency Response System and directed the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and New Zealand Police to progress with caller location capabilities.

The government then agreed to modifications to the proposal and directed MBIE to develop a system that could provide the best available caller location information and send it directly to the emergency services when an emergency call is made, requiring the caller to do nothing more than dial the emergency number on the standard keypad of their mobile device.
Implemented in May 2017, ECLI initially provided two sources of location information—there were very few examples globally to reference, resulting in a unique and innovative approach to resolve the problem; network-based location providing a low-precision, broad area of probability of where the caller is located and handset-based location providing high-precision. This provides GPS and Wi-Fi derived location, initially with Google on the Android operating system and then implemented through Apple’s iOS operating system. From October 2018, ECLI was extended to integrate with the 3G mobile networks through 3GPP Location Services mobile technology using the network control-plane to communicate directly with mobile devices during emergency calls to derive high-precision location. This addition to the Service has been significant in extending high-precision location information using aggregation formulas to gain the most precise location. The method is used for all devices; regardless of a mobile devices type, make or model.

The ECLI Service has provided significant benefits to New Zealanders, tourists visiting New Zealand and to PSOs by providing operational efficiencies, ultimately to enable emergency call-takers to identify the location of emergency mobile callers more quickly and with greater accuracy. This in turn has provided social benefit by improving the outcomes for New Zealanders and tourists in emergency situations.

ECLI uses multiple location methods, processes the messages, enriches the data, and then makes the location of the mobile device available to PSOs in real-time to support the dispatch of an emergency response.
Personal location information is collected and retained for a configurable period of time and is only used for the purpose of helping emergency services identify the location of a caller so they can respond to their request for help while maintaining privacy boundaries. An important feature of the service is that the caller is not required to do anything other than dial emergency services from the standard keypad of their mobile device.

By 2021, high-precision location information will be provided for 95% of all genuine mobile emergency calls. Quick and precise verification of a mobile emergency caller’s geographical location is vital for public safety and security, and in saving lives.
Since launch of ECLI the New Zealand PSOs have become to depend on the Service and have changed their internal processes regarding location validation accordingly.

Cases where ECLI has made a dramatic difference to an emergency outcome include rapid responses to seriously injured persons, motorcycle crash victims, people distressed or suicidal, people experiencing family violence, earlier responses to life-threatening fires, and many cases of people experiencing medical emergencies. The one thing these cases all have in common was that the callers all dialled 111 from their mobile device, automatically initiating the ECLI Service.
Further and ongoing development is underway to ensure the service maintains its cutting-edge pace with future technology changes. There is anticipation of a higher number of emergency calls being made over new technologies; including 5G, Voice over Wi-Fi (VoWi-Fi), Internet of Things (IoT), eCall and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communications, and work is underway to support them.

New Zealand is now seen by key multinational organisations as a global leader in mobile location technology implementation and a number of these organisations have made approaches with proposals to commercialise the service, making it available under licence or through a joint venture partnership.

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