Where Are We… With Advanced Mobile Location

EENA's Amy Leete is exploring the state of play in the public safety sector, with a particular focus this week on Advanced Mobile Location.
Where Are We… With Advanced Mobile Location
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In this new series of blogs, we explore the state of play with the main topics in public safety. With rapidly evolving legislation, different stages of implementation across Europe and beyond, it can be difficult to keep up. Where are we in terms of deployment, EU legislation, EENA’s work on the topic and future updates? Today, we cover Advanced Mobile Location.

Advanced Mobile Location (AML) is an incredibly important resource for emergency services. Locating the victim(s) of an emergency is paramount to quick intervention – and AML can provide a highly accurate and reliable location to call-takers. In the event of an emergency call, an AML-enabled smartphone (all Android and iOS devices worldwide) automatically sends accurate location information of the caller to the emergency services. This information is derived from the location data of the phone (GNSS, Wi-Fi).

EU Legislation: What do EU Member States Need to Do?

As the new delegated regulation supplementing the European Electronic Communications Code (directive 2018/1972) has been published, the implementation of caller location criteria (although not specifically AML) is a priority for EU member states right now. The regulation contains more specific rules relating to several topics, including caller location information (find out more in our delegated regulation webinar).

For caller location information, new rules detail how “competent regulatory authorities” should determine criteria on how emergency communications should be located.

Such criteria would be expressed as XX% of communications located within XX metres with a distinction for handset-derived (AML) and network-based (Cell-ID) location. According to recital (7): “The mix of these technologies ensures that even where a handset-derived caller location solution fails to make the caller location information available to the most appropriate PSAP, emergency services can rely on network-based location to usefully come to the end-user’s assistance, in line with the caller location accuracy and reliability criteria established by member states.”

For the first time in EU legislation, the delegated regulation includes the recommendation to include an elevation or vertical accuracy criterion, alongside longitude and latitude. To facilitate work in determining these criteria, the legislation foresees co-operation between member states through the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) and other relevant fora. The first caller location criteria will have to be reported to the Commission by Member states within one year after the entry into force of the legislation. The deadline for these criteria is March 5th, 2024.

This legislation comes after the European Electronic Communications Code mandate that all EU states were required to implement AML by December 2020.

Obstacles and Limitations: Implementation, Roaming, and More

AML is implemented in a number of European countries, but this is still ongoing.

The wide deployment of AML in Europe has considerably improved over the past years the accuracy of the caller location information provided to PSAPs. However, improvements are still to be made, in the context of new regulatory requirements on Member States to adopt caller location criteria. This session from the EENA 2023 Conference & Exhibition aims at reviewing the current challenges and discussing the evolution of handset-derived and network-based caller location technologies.

There are also a number of situations in which AML may not work – such as roaming or the phone not having a SIM card. Although 112 emergency calling is supported without a valid SIM or even no SIM at all, AML will not work as there is no SMSc (SMS Center) or PGW (Packet Data Network Gateway) to transport AML data. For roaming, the issue is more complex. Roaming adds an extra layer of difficulty to the transmission of AML, because the handset (if AML is active in the user’s home country) will send the SMS containing your location back to their home country, rather than to the country they are in.

Solutions for this are being worked on as a priority and are already implemented in some countries, meaning that AML can work even when roaming. Belgium, for example, is one of these countries. Currently there are 3 solutions that work for AML when roaming: the ‘Belgian’ solution (EENA webinar on this here), using a long-number for the SMS, and using HTTPS. It is important to note that currently, this only works for Google phones (Samsung, etc) and not Apple (i.e. iPhone).

In our 2023 AML report card, you can see a list of which technologies are rolled out in 30 countries.

There is also the growing issue of modern architecture – i.e. multi-storey buildings – making longitude and latitude (what AML typically provides) alone not enough in some cases. Longitude and latitude alone are not enough to identify a subject’s position in a multi-story skyscraper, underground parking garage, or subway station, for example. Nevertheless, the automatic push of emergency caller location data to Public Safety Answering Point operators today generally uses 2D maps (X- and Y-axis only). Using the Z-axis (height) in a 3D map better locates emergencies in dense, urban areas. Check out our blog on Enhancing Location Intelligence with Vertical Positioning for more information on this.

The delegated regulation includes the recommendation to include an elevation or vertical accuracy criterion (although this is not mandatory to include within the caller location criteria that must be submitted by March 5th 2024). The European Commission may, in future legislation, require these criterion also.

What next?

EENA’s work on AML continues: our latest edition of the AML Report Card, published 16 May, provides information on the AML deployment status of 31 countries. The number of countries having deployed AML keeps increasing, but there’s still a long way to go.

Additionally, following the publication of the delegated regulation of the EECC, EENA has decided to work on the drafting of a recommendation on accuracy and reliability criteria for handset-based caller location. EENA intends to publish its final recommendation in September 2023, so that Member States have time to consider our recommendations and submit fully realised criteria to the European Commission within the timeframe. Full information on EENA’s contribution can be found here.

EENA remains available to respond to any questions you may have about AML, put you in contact with other public safety officials who have already deployed AML, and facilitate contact with key contact points at Google and Apple as we maintain regular contact with them. Head to our Advanced Mobile Location special focus page to find out more.

For more news from EENA, visit our website here

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