Emergency calling on the agenda in Nairobi and Maharashtra

Emergency calling on the agenda in Nairobi and Maharashtra

Two stories from two different continents have, coincidentally, highlighted the issue of making emergency calling easier, albeit in two very distinct ways.

African regulators meeting in Nairobi, as members of the African Telecommunications Union (ATU), have called for the implementation of a single emergency number across the continent ahead of the World Telecommunications Standardisation Assembly (WTDC) in India in October.

The regulators want member states to consider implementing a globally harmonised emergency number to supplement existing domestic emergency numbers, taking into account relevant International Telecommunication Union (ITU) recommendations.

More than 200 industry players from across Africa attended the meeting, which included both regulators and the business sector. 

According to the ITWeb Africa news service, ATU secretary general John Omo said: "Africa needs a common emergency telecommunications number so that countries can cooperate in responding to disasters such as floods.”

Meanwhile India, where the WTDC will take place, has provided emergency calling news of its own. Operator Vodafone Idea (Vi), and the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation Limited (MSRDC) have signed an exclusive agreement to set up emergency calling booths every two kilometres along the 95-kilometre expressway connecting Mumbai and Pune.

As the partners point out, while most commuters have mobile phones, they might not be aware of whom to connect with or how to explain their location in an emergency. Hence these emergency calling booths, which will allow commuters to directly connect with the state highway police control room in case of an emergency.

Vi will be providing network support to all the emergency calling booths. The booths and state highway police control room will be enabled with Vi Sims, so it’s not clear whether non-Vi customers can use them.

MSRDC will manage other aspects such as maintaining the equipment and responding to or addressing queries from commuters.

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