CIO

NZ gov’t further enhances Emergency Caller Location Information service

A year since its launch, the system was used to help verify locations of nearly 400,000 111-emergency calls

The service has had real impact on improving the safety of New Zealanders

Ben Quay, MBIE

Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Kris Faafoi says enhancements to the Emergency Caller Location Information (ECLI)  service will further improve this potentially life-saving technology.

The changes are currently being rolled out and will be completed in mid-2020, says the minister.

This means 111 calls made from all mobile phones in New Zealand will soon have their locations verified, regardless of platform.

“Emergency services have told us that the location service is already making a huge difference,” says Minister Faafoi.

“Being able to quickly verify callers’ locations means emergency services can be dispatched more quickly and reach those who need help sooner – which can make a huge difference to the outcome of an emergency situation.”

Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Kris Faafoi
Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Kris Faafoi

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment introduced the service in May 2017.

The service provided high-precision location information for smartphones running Google’s Android system – approximately 70 per cent of the New Zealand market – and lower-precision location information for most other mobile devices. The high-precision location solution was extended to mobile phones running Apple’s iOS operating system in April this year.

A year after the launch, the ECLI system was used to help verify locations of nearly 400,000 emergency calls.

The system uses the Location Area Service (LAS), designed and built by Datacom using Microsoft and Google technologies.

When a person dials 111 on their mobile phone the best available location is automatically sent to LAS. LAS processes the location information and sends it to the appropriate emergency service provider. Datacom’s Microsoft Services business unit led the design and development of LAS, drawing upon a wide range of Datacom teams and services across New Zealand.

“Each year there are more than a million calls to emergency services. In many cases callers are lost and don’t know where they are, or are unable to share that information due to disability or injury,” says Datacom Group CEO Greg Davidson.

“Quick and precise caller location can be the difference between being rescued safely, or someone being in a potentially life threatening situation,” notes Davidson.

Quick and precise caller location can be the difference between being rescued safely, or someone being in a potentially life threatening situation

Greg Davidson, Datacom Group

“The service has had real impact on improving the safety of New Zealanders and the outcomes that Datacom has achieved directly contributes to this and the success of the project,” says Ben Quay, ECLI Programme Director at Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The service also received the award for best ICT-enabled programme that helps solve a community or social issue in the 2018 CIO100 event.

In 2016, before this service was established, Police recorded over 8,100 incidents where they had to make a special information request to a network provider for a caller’s location, due to being unable to verify the caller’s address. These are instances where the caller was unable to speak or did not know his or her exact whereabouts.

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