The EU continues to trial its eCall initiative across Europe before it is due to be fully functional in 2015. Tim Clayton looks at some of the opportunities the scheme will present
The European eCall initiative to bring faster help to motorists after accidents is looking increasingly like that rare beast: a successful Europe wide cooperation. Based on early trials, the European Commission estimated that eCall initiative could reduce emergency response times by 50 per cent in rural areas and 40 per cent in urban areas, saving countless lives as well as up to €14 billion in the EU 25 annually. Beyond this, it also represents a fantastic opportunity, creating completely new markets for telematics devices and services, and adding rocket fuel to the already fast-expanding M2M space.
The eCall program
The European Commission introduced eCall, a groundbreaking initiative intended to bring rapid and automatic assistance to motorists involved in an incident anywhere in the European Union (EU), several years ago. To meet the challenge of developing an interoperable Pan-European eCall program, ERTICO and its member organisations launched a pilot programme, known as HeERO. The scheme has developed interoperable eCall programmes in participating EU regions and it will synchronise systems across country and network borders. The HeERO pilot, which began in 2011 and is continuing through 2013, has already been successfully pre-deployed in several regions using 112 as the pan-European Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) emergency call number.
This is probably the world’s biggest deployment of M2M technology, and though the participants in the trial and rollout, because of its scale and strategic importance, will be major blue chip businesses, it will bring wider opportunities. The aftermarket for retrofitting these devices will be huge – Cinterion estimates 100 million vehicles. In addition, the availability of a standard telematics platform in a significant proportion of European vehicles could drive a thriving market in third party applications. The European market alone is big enough to achieve this, but globally, the adoption of a single, standard eCall platform in Europe is likely to influence the adoption of a very similar platform in the US and Asia. Drivers can be offered other telematics services such as route advisories and traffic information, and the location of anything from the nearest service station to the nearest pizza parlour can be conveyed. With drivers’ permission, vehicle location data can be used to monitor traffic conditions even more accurately than at present. Whilst these services are already available on proprietary satnavs, a universal telematics platform in every European vehicle will take this market to a completely different level.
Finally, with the automotive supply chain absorbing millions of M2M modules, volumes on the components they contain will rise significantly, with a corresponding reduction in manufacturing cost. This will benefit every single application that relies on these technologies.
The first two of these opportunities require access to an eCall-compliant module, and Cinterion was first out with an eCall compliant M2M wireless platform. The AGS2 is prepared to meet the comprehensive requirements of the European eCall initiative. Its eCall compliant AH3 module and development kit were used and became essential to achieving the successful upgrade of the PSAP system in the first full trial in Romania.
Simultaneous to Romania’s PSAP infrastructure upgrade, Civitronic also collaborated with Cinterion to design and launch the “ubiq eCall IVS Solution”, an In-Vehicle Solution (IVS) that provides the minimum set of data compliant to the EU norm as well as advanced fleet management services. Civitronic’s ubiq eCall IVS integrates Cinterion’s automotive-grade AH3 that provides cellular voice, data and Internet connectivity, GPS capabilities and eCall functionality from one component.
The Cinterion AH3 delivers reliable always-on communications across global 2G and 3G cellular networks for automatic eCall and emergency roadside assistance as well as onboard vehicle computing, Internet access, fleet management, integrated hands free calling and many more. The module’s SIM Access Profile enables easy integration of additional wireless devices, connection with smartphones and software applications, while analogue audio processing and advanced voice support provide superior hands-free capabilities. Its three antennas allow always-on communications with simultaneous voice, data and continuous GPS tracking for true multi-tasking. In short, it is ideal for the creation of a future-proof telematics solution.
Wireless M2M-powered public safety and eCall solutions provide peace of mind for consumers while better enabling emergency service personnel to respond to life’s dangerous moments – but the benefits it will bring are much wider. Anyone designing in-vehicle telematics should be looking at the opportunities it presents, and even beyond this major market, the sheer scale of eCall will create new opportunities.
Source: Land Mobile