Europe News: SBD recommends action to put eCall back on track

Europe News:  SBD recommends action to put eCall back on track

Breaking down the barriers to establishing a successful pan-European public eCall accident alert system will require new dialogue and compromises from all the project’s key stakeholders, says SBD.

In a new report published this week – The Real Prospects for eCall in Europe – SBD makes it clear that EU member states, mobile network providers and vehicle manufacturers need to work closer together to build a new consensus if the project is to have a viable future.

As well as being an ambitious, high profile road safety project, eCall could also provide a valuable platform for the future introduction of more sophisticated ITS/telematics-based services. SBD warns, however, that the scheme is in danger of failing to achieve its potential unless the key parties involved adopt a more positive and pragmatic attitude.

David McClure, SBD head of ITS and Telematics, said: “We’ve cut through all the hype and spin surrounding eCall to present a clear and objective picture of the state the project is in. Our report spells out what needs to be done if it is to fulfil its potential, both in terms of improving safety and in establishing a telematics platform in every new vehicle to which other valuable services could be added.”

McCluere said that since the public eCall debate started five years ago, there have been many missed opportunities, with different stakeholders not engaging in the argument due to concerns about cost implications and a perceived lack of benefits.

“They have to realise that eCall is not going to go away, and that they have to come back to the table and work out a constructive strategy to put it back on track,” he pointed out.

SBD believes there is a strong probability that the EC’s 2010 target deployment date for the launch of a Europe-wide public eCall service will be missed. However, the opportunity remains for stakeholders to work out more flexible proposals, adopt more relaxed deadlines and reassess the technical solutions, in particular the value of using SIM cards.

A more positive approach could see some EU states making the necessary infrastructure upgrades and the first vehicle manufacturers fitting the necessary equipment by the end of the decade. Increased consumer awareness and demand would provide the momentum for more countries and manufacturers to follow suit.

“Compromises will be necessary from all parties if public eCall is to have any chance of success,” said McClure. “The EC has to review its past decisions, and any new discussions must reintroduce the use of SIM cards as a technical solution for eCall, if the vehicle manufacturers and network operators are to be brought on-side.”

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