America’s 911 emergency system goes digital, as eCall field trial concludes

America’s 911 emergency system goes digital, as eCall field trial concludes

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced plans to revolutionize America’s 911 emergency system by embracing the use of text, photo, and video in emergencies. Texts can provide a silent means of communication in circumstances where a call could jeopardize someone’s life or safety. Likewise, mobile video and photos can provide first responders with on-the-ground information that helps them assess and address the emergency in real-time. Seventy percent of today’s 911 emergency calls come from mobile phones, but 911 call centers lack the technical capability to receive texts, photos, or videos.

Many 911 call centers don’t have access to broadband, which makes it difficult to receive incoming data, particularly in large volume. Furthermore, call center operators have not been trained how to effectively communicate using these new technologies. “911 is an indispensable, live-saving tool,” said FCC chairman Julius Genachowski. “But today’s 911 system doesn’t support the communication tools of tomorrow. Even though mobile phones are the device of choice for most 911 callers, and we primarily use our phones to text, right now, you can’t text 911. It’s time to bring 911 into the digital age.” The FCC will hold a proceeding in December to get public input on how to transition the current system to broadband-enabled, next-generation 911.

eCall field trial concludes in Belgium

NXP’s two-week, pan-European field trial of eCall came to a successful close in Brussels. Three cars equipped with NXP’s telematics solution ATOP (Automotive Telematics On-Board Unit Platform) drove a total of 16,000 kilometers through 16 EU countries. The telematics boxes sent out 15,000 eCalls via the mobile networks of Deutsche Telekom and its roaming partners; the eCalls were received and processed by IBM, Allianz OrtungsServices, and BMW servers or call centers. The cars began their journeys in Madrid, Athens, and Helsinki. On their way to Brussels, they regularly sent test eCalls in each country they crossed, demonstrating that the technology is capable of working across borders, regardless of which standards (SMS-based or in-band modem) prevail locally.

NAVTEQ TrafficOne

NAVTEQ launched the next generation of NAVTEQ TrafficOne, its Web-based map, traffic, commuter, and trip planning service. NAVTEQ TrafficOne enables broadcasters to extend audience reach and advertising revenue opportunity to the Web while helping end users get the upper hand over their daily commutes. End users can now opt to view only the traffic that’s most relevant to them—like their usual routes home or to the office—and to easily compare routes that are faster due to lighter traffic conditions, more direct routes, or shorter distances. Bold new graphics, including satellite map views and hybrid overlays of roadway views onto satellite maps, provide a window onto the real world road network. Users can send themselves their own personalized live traffic reports via SMS or email so they know how and when to drive.

Updated Magellan RoadMate

Magellan released version 1.3 of the Magellan RoadMate App for the iPhone. The new app is fully compatible with iOS4 and takes advantage of iPhone 4’s multitasking ability. Users can now make or take phone calls while real-time navigation activities and routing continues in the background. Other key features new to the Magellan app include free real-time traffic updates; “LifeTime Live Traffic,” which compares current and proposed alternative routes; location-based promotional offers and coupons that pop up on-screen and allow users the option to re-route to the sponsor’s storefront or save the promotional coupons for redemption at a later time; and point of interest sharing, which allows users to share POIs with their friends and family via email, Facebook, and Twitter. The updated Magellan RoadMate App is available now on the App Store. All existing Magellan RoadMate App users will receive the update free of charge.

Hertz and HopStop

Hertz and HopStop announced a strategic partnership to help city dwellers get around more easily. HopStop plans to add easy access to hourly car rentals into its navigation app, which provides fast and easy public transportation and walking directions. In turn, will provide HopStop-powered door-to-door directions to pick-up and drop-off their cars at Connect by Hertz locations. Currently on HopStop, a New Yorker looking to travel from downtown Manhattan to Rockland County has the option to travel via subway or bus, a two-hour one-way trip. With the new service, a HopStop user can save time by renting a car for a few hours from Connect By Hertz. HopStop shows them the closest Connect By Hertz location. The partnership covers both companies’ operations in New York City, London, Paris, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Honda and SUNA

Honda Australia announced plans to adopt Intelematics Australia’s SUNA Traffic Channel. SUNA Traffic Channel is Australia’s first digital traffic information service that broadcasts detailed information on traffic congestion and other road conditions to compatible in-car satellite navigation devices. The service uses tens of thousands of traffic sensors supplemented with probe vehicles, freeway sensors, tow truck allocations, and traffic cameras. All of this information is validated by a team of traffic operators and then sent to the in-car navigation device, helping drivers navigate an easier, more efficient and stress-free drive. The first Honda to feature the channel will be the 2011 Honda Insight VTi-L hybrid.

GeoDash into Canada

Project X, a boutique advisory and technology services company based in Toronto, announced plans to distribute BigDataLabs GeoDash technology in Canada. Project X will be BigDataLabs sole Canadian partner. GeoDash is a new way to add GeoSpatial context to business intelligence environments through the integration of MicroStrategy technology and Google Maps. GeoDash is a lightweight solution for the business intelligence market with no extra hardware or server costs and no extensive training needed for users. Project X President Stephen Hayward said, “BigDataLabs matches our rapid business intelligence model and like Project X is focused on fast-to-market technology that demonstrates maximum innovation and value for customers.”

Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to TU.

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