Analysing Emergency Case Studies

The Start Point for NEXES

From the start of the NEXES RIA, the NEXES partners have been focused on producing evidence, lessons learned and best practices concerning emergency services, within Europe and beyond European borders, to highlight existing requirements, needs and gaps from the perspective of the NEXES end-user community. In this ordeal, particular emphasis was placed upon the adoption of IP-enabled technologies and services, such as voice, text, video, location, health and environmental data and automated warnings and alerts.

NEXES gathered case studies of different emergency situations within partner countries and current, yet nationally varying, organisational structures and set of operational practices, processes and procedures for handling and managing emergency incidents, and referencing them to emergency services’ statistics as well as already available research and related research projects. The data utilised relied mainly on already publicly available national evidence.

Across Europe and beyond, the current structures, processes and technologies adopted by emergency services determine the ways in which emergency calls are received and handled before help is dispatched. These models are greatly influenced by the way in which different emergency authorities and services are organised within the different countries. On the basis of the case examples and the current organisation of emergency services, NEXES presents a comprehensive summary that illustrates the current state and related challenges, solutions and further challenges in emergency response. These results were further categorised into organizational, behavioural, technological, economic, ethical and legal areas.

Typical technological and technical aspects are related to congestion, either that of telephone networks, PSAPs or radio networks. This concern was particularly present in large-scale emergency case studies, and also in visions of transmitting multimodal content such as videos, photos or other bandwidth consuming data. The overall lack of alternative means for sharing or obtaining information from emergencies was visible also in such crucial aspects as locating the caller and the incident. Due to the inaccuracy of cellular network triangulation, the accuracy and precision of the caller’s location still seems to remain as one of the biggest challenges of current emergency response activities. Across Europe and in Turkey, communications between citizens and PSAPs rely mainly on voice calls over Public Service Telephone Network (PSTN) or mobile networks. For example, close to none of the European countries provide the possibility to contact emergency services via IP-enabled channels.

Notions on the behavioural aspects of emergency response included pinpoint challenges related to both the reason and the possibility to contact and communicate with emergency services. Solutions should take into account such matters as the level of involvement in the emergency, being under stress when involved in an emergency; pre-emptive measures to prevent emergencies, education of citizens on the appropriate use of emergency services and the management of alternative channels and for communication.

Despite the importance of guaranteeing the possibility for any citizen to contact emergency services, there are several challenges related to the ethical and legal aspects of emergency response. Even with taking advantage of all possible information of the incident, it is important to ensure that the solutions respect citizens’ privacy, especially when being the victim of an accident. Tackling aspects like the public sharing of information in coordinated rescue activities and data privacy issues related to storing and transmitting information from smart devices, NEXES also emphasized the importance of secure and resilient connections as well as of local data protection infrastructure.

The organisational aspects of developing next generation emergency services include multiple challenges such as organising the PSAPs’ workflow addressing emergencies, improving interdisciplinary communication, making information flow more efficient, diversifying communication methods and improving information management. Specific solutions to address these issues are the opening and improving of communication channels and procedures between different authorities, rationalising the receiving of emergency reports, diversifying communication methods and procedures in terms of content and audience yet simplifying the used devices or terminals, defining procedures for data validation, enabling more direct connections by bypassing unnecessary communication links, removing tasks or procedures solvable by the technology, bringing more actors in the communication loop related to emergency management and including openly available information in the planning of emergency response activities.

With the case studies and evidence analysis produced, NEXES is able to address the many relevant aspects of Emergency Services and to collect measures of performance for benchmarking purposes, allowing to establish a baseline for knowledge of existing best practices and policies, as well as of gaps and challenges to be surpassed. A clear image of the work ahead is now at hand!

NEXES’s deliverable on Emergency Case Studies and Evidence Analysis is the responsibility of the NEXES partner POLAMK.

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