112 is a part of the GSM standard and all GSM-compatible telephone handsets are able to dial 112 even when locked or, in some countries, with no SIM card present. It is also the common emergency number in India and in nearly all member states of the European Union as well as several other countries of Europe and the world. 112 is often available alongside other numbers traditionally used in the given country to access emergency services. In some countries, calls to 112 are not connected directly but forwarded by the GSM network to local emergency numbers (e.g., 911 in North America or 000 in Australia).
112 is not always supported by VoIP operators or on non-GSM networks.
112 (emergency telephone number)
A "cocaine alert" sign posted by GGD Amsterdam: the sign reminds people to "Call 112 for an ambulance."
112 was first standardised by a recommendation by the CEPT in 1972 and later by a decision of the EU Council in 1991 and subsequently reaffirmed in 2002 by article 26 of the Universal Service Directive and its subsequent amendments.
This choice of number has the following advantages:
Different digits: with the numeric keypads used universally today, using at least two different digits instead of the same digit repeatedly significantly reduces the risk of accidental calls. Young children, vibrations, defective keys and collisions with other objects are much more likely to press the same key repeatedly than a particular sequence of different keys, particularly with a button-operated keypad. Accidental calls to emergency centres from mobile phones, which can dial emergency numbers even with locked keypad, are a particular problem with same-digit numbers, such as the UK's 999.
Low digits: in the days of rotary dial telephones, using only those digits that require the least dial rotation (1 and 2) permitted a dial lock in hole 3 to effectively disable unauthorised access to the telephone network without preventing access to the emergency number 112. The same choice also maximised dialling speed. Additionally, telephone systems used pulse dialling instead of later DTMF tones; briefly activating the hook once has the same effect as dialling "1", so repeatedly pushing the hook might result in calling 1-1-1. For this reason, Germany's police emergency number was changed from 111 to 110. With numeric keypads, pressing only the first and second button on the keypad is marginally easier in a difficult situation than other keys.
Vatican City (alongside 113 for National Police, 115 for Fire and 118 for Ambulance)
In many countries, emergency numbers previously used also continue to be available; e.g. 061 and 112 in Spain, 999 and 112 both function in Ireland and the UK. In the United States, only some carriers, including AT&T will map the number 112 to its emergency number 9-1-1.
The International Telecommunications Union recommends that member states selecting a primary or secondary emergency number choose either 911, 112 or both.
112 is one of two numbers (the other being the region's own emergency number) that can be dialed on most GSM phones even if the phone is locked.
E112 is a location-enhanced version of 112. The telecom operator transmits the location information to the emergency centre. The EU Directive E112 (2003) requires mobile phone networks to provide emergency services with whatever information they have about the location a mobile call was made. This directive is based on the FCC's Enhanced 911 ruling in 2001.
The eCall feature for automated emergency calls on crash mandatory since April 2018 on European car is based on E112.
Getting 112 to work across the EU is a complex task. It requires in particular coordination between civil protection administrations (the emergency authorities who handle the call) and electronic communications administrations (who have to make sure that a 112 call reaches the emergency operator). That is why the Commission decided to act at European level and set up the Expert Group on Emergency Access (EGEA) at the end of 2005.
The objective of the group is to deal with practical issues Member States are facing to provide an efficient and effective 112 service to citizens. This group seeks practical solutions to problems experienced by the emergency services at local, regional or national levels and deals with issues related to the application of new technologies for communication with emergency services.
The European Commission decided that EGEA would not be renewed for the year 2014. The European Commission noted that in case the work by the working group would appear necessary during the course of this period, this work would be fully covered and dealt with during regular Communication Committee (COCOM) meetings, or if needed, the composition of any of these groups could be called for a dedicated meeting back to back with a regular COCOM meeting.
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