Improving how we contact the emergency services using digital technology
Communications has changed drastically since the at-the-time world-leading UK ‘999’ service was designed in the late 1930’s. We are now ‘Digital by Default’ and data rather than voice dominate usage as do increasingly smart mobile handsets rather than land lines. Younger people are shown by the Ofcom figures to be more likely to use data services including text and social media than voice, as might any user in critical situations such as in high ambient sound. Most calls are made from mobiles - and the modern smart mobile has extensive capabilities such as call trace, messaging , video and mapping that can greatly improve triage and response that are not yet being fully utilised. Control centre systems are also being upgraded and these will now need to access smarter handsets. There is great potential for overall cost reduction and transformation during 2016 – 2018, IF we start now.
In pursuit of these objectives the IET, with the co-operation of the Cabinet Office, called a meeting of interested parties on 8th July at the Royal Society.
The meeting was attended by some 45 stakeholders from a wide range of groups including the emergency services, regulators, government departments and communications providers. However it was very clear both at and after the meeting that a good many other groups would like to have attended and could contribute and this should be borne in mind on a future occasion.
The media response was also impressively large and shows that our timing here may be right. Again a number of groups pointed out quite correctly that they would have been grateful to have been warned of this, as of course would we, but next time a wider media approach would be beneficial.
Improving the ways to contact the emergency services in the digital age.
This document gives an overview of the meeting held at the Royal Society on 8th July 2015.