On April 11th 2017, the University of Ljubljana (UL) organised the NEXES Pilot in Slovenia focused on the demonstration of the NEXES System and its innovative capabilities to assist emergency services to adopt advanced information and communications technologies and become next generation emergency services, providing a more efficient and effective emergency response to the benefit of the society.
The objective of the NEXES Pilot in Slovenia was to demonstrate the use of novel communication capabilities between citizens and emergency services and to identify opportunities for improvement of the NEXES System and Apps as key highlights of the NEXES reference implementation of next generation emergency services.
In order to prepare the NEXES Pilot activities in Slovenia, a large-scale emergency scenario relevant for the Slovenian end-users was created, based on the NEXES Reference Scenario 4 – Natural Disaster. The scenario presented inherent flexibility to be deconstructed in different five supporting storylines aiming at demonstrating the different innovations and novel capabilities developed in NEXES. Aside from highlighting the breadth of NEXES’s functionality and its potential application up to a large-scale emergency or crisis, the NEXES Pilot in Slovenia aimed to demonstrate the NEXES’s capacity to greatly enhance not only public access to emergency services, but also the quality of information exchanged between citizens and emergency services. Moreover, it also suggests NEXES’s potential to bolster public confidence in the emergency response process due to increased reach alternatives and the provision of information or instructions by the PSAP operator. In addition, the scenario also addresses potential problems that could arise from the enhanced reach afforded by the NEXES App, in particular the potential for a greater volume of non-emergency calls, and the greater demand and pressure exerted on PSAP and emergency services call-takers, due to the increased capacity afforded by IP communications.
Overall, the NEXES Pilot in Slovenia was carefully designed to showcase important features within NEXES, among them:
- Advanced location: showing multiple locations to better pinpoint the caller’s position;
- Multi-party chat communication: to aid citizens with deafness or hearing disability;
- Multi-party video communication: to aid citizens with deafness or hearing disability and to be able to provide live recordings of events on the emergency site;
- Medical data transfer;
- Media (picture, video) upload to the PSAP system;
- Surveys for non-emergency calls;
- International roaming of emergency calls using the PESEA specifications;
- Cross-PSAP data sharing;
- Cross-PSAP chat communication;
- Cross-PSAP video communication.
To enable the above-referred functionality, the NEXES Pilot in Slovenia developed a full end-to-end emergency service using specific NEXES components that were thus validated by independent, external end-users:
- The pan-European NEXES App for citizens, enabling total conversation capabilities and the exchange of additional user data;
- The NEXES PESEA-based network components;
- The NEXES Next Generation Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) System, as the ecosystem supporting next generation call handling and additional data exchange capabilities;
- The NEXES Emergency Response Organisations dashboard.
The NEXES Pilot in Slovenia comprised actual role-playing activities, with participants giving life to the five storylines and interacting with the NEXES System and App. The Pilot demonstration was set-up in the Faculty of Electrical Engineering’s lobby, in a clearly demarcated area with controlled access identified as “NEXES PILOT AREA”. At the Pilot site, six working posts (consoles) were set up to mimic the Slovenian emergency services, representing PSAP operators, an intervention supervisor and an interpreter:
- The 112 PSAP operator, serving as the first call-taker for all incoming emergency calls;
- The Police PSAP, serving as a second-level PSAP for storyline 3;
- The Fire service PSAP, serving as a second-level PSAP for storylines 1, 2 and 4;
- The Ambulance service PSAP, serving as a second-level PSAP for storylines 2 and 5;
- The Interpretation service for sign language interpretation in storyline 4;
- The 3rd level Fire service Intervention Supervisor for storyline 1.
The actual NEXES Pilot execution was structured so as to have every storyline initially presented to the participants in a step-by-step presentation, with the trained members of the University of Ljubljana team running one scenario storyline and presenting the procedure live of the NEXES System. Individual participants were then invited to partake and try out the individual scenario storylines. The goal was to make participants at ease and avoid any difficulties interacting with the technology; it also helped to introduce the novelties of the NEXES System and Apps.
The 30 participants in the Pilot were divided into two groups, one comprised of emergency services’ professionals and the other comprised of citizens, including deaf citizens. Each group displayed interest in different NEXES’s features: the emergency services were particularly interested in the location feature and the opportunity to receive additional information from the caller, whereas the citizens were keen to experiment the different communication channels enabling audio, video and chat conversation and the upload of pictures and videos. Overall, the interaction between the end-users community and the NEXES development team during the NEXES Pilot in Slovenia proved to be a fruitful method of discussing relevant issues, understanding details on the end-users’ operational needs and requirements and improving the NEXES System and Apps to provide effective next generation emergency service.
Emergency service professionals participating in the Pilot confirmed that:
- NEXES advances the current capabilities in handling and responding to emergency reports (situations);
- Chat messaging is considered a relevant feature;
- Video calls are understood as highly relevant tools to assist in emergency response;
- Pictures/image upload is perceived as relevant to improve the operator’s situational awareness;
- International call routing (roaming) capability is considered a valuable feature but with limited application (low number of emergency calls from tourists in Slovenia);
- Improved location is deemed highly relevant to advance emergency response;
- There are risks requiring careful analysis, namely those related with the protection of sensitive personal data and the overload of information incurred by PSAP operators, particularly when accessing disturbing images or videos.
Citizens, including those experiencing deafness or hearing impairment, participating in the Pilot confirmed that:
- NEXES advances the current capabilities for citizens contacting and communicating with emergency services;
- Chat messaging is a relevant feature in the new channels to reach emergency services;
- Video calls, particularly for speech impairment or deaf citizens, are very important when contacting emergency services;
- Pictures/image transfer highly improves on current capabilities for contacting and communicating with emergency services;
- International call routing (roaming) capability is a valuable feature to assist emergency response;
- Improved location is a relevant capability to support emergency services;
- There are risks concerning the citizens’ right to privacy that need to be considered (emergency services must guarantee the protection of sensitive personal data).
Representatives of the deaf community, in particular, have expressed a high level of approval of NEXES advanced functionalities displayed in the NEXES Pilot in Slovenia. All signalled the relevance of having multiple channels to rapidly reach emergency services and to exchange additional information (photos, videos). More importantly, they highlighted the support provided by sign language interpretation. A specific remark was made to the opportunity now delivered by NEXES to see the PSAP operator’s face, as a reassurance that help is on the way.
The results prove the importance of the advanced capabilities provided by NEXES to build improved emergency services with respect to end-to-end rich multimedia communication, location accuracy and international roaming capabilities. The results also show the relevance of involving emergency services professionals and citizens, including those experiencing disability or special needs, as new systems are developed and tested so that their validation is thorough in terms of the impact in the services’ operations and the citizens’ perception of safety, well-being and quality of life.
The impact of the NEXES Pilot in Slovenia has been highly positive. Especially, it is important to establish relationships and alliances with relevant national and European authorities, which have significant influence on the path towards harmonised regulation and standardisation involving next generation capabilities for emergency services.
One important lesson learned from the NEXES Pilot in Slovenia is also that the communication materials used, serving to present the pilot activities and the technologies at hand, are very useful to dissipate any initial resistance or doubt with respect to the participant’s ability to perform as expected. The participants in the Pilot revealed no difficulty or disorientation in the use of the NEXES System or App. The NEXES Consortium will continue to invest in the ability to capture a friendly, easy-to-use interface, capable of establishing enhanced interactive opportunities and kept updated with the latest capabilities integrated into the NEXES System and Apps.
Overall, the NEXES Pilot in Slovenia pointed out that there is a general awareness of the need for changes in the traditional methods of contacting and communicating with emergency services, namely through the integration of new IP-enabled communications and information technologies that bring richer communication channels implementing the total conversation paradigm, improved location information for faster and more accurate identification of the caller’s location and enhanced interoperability amongst the different emergency services required to provide the right emergency response. The NEXES results successfully demonstrated in the Pilot have exhibited a great potential in raising the end-users community’s interest in this topic, with a positive impact on their understanding of the NEXES benefits and effects to society.
Indeed, the interest in the development of next generation emergency services across Europe is big and relevant stakeholders expect more information about its implementation, the potential promising technologies and the expected benefits for the country and the society. The challenge embraced by NEXES to become the first reference implementation of an end-to-end next generation emergency service requires the commitment of all groups of stakeholders and the organisation of well-structured activities, such as the NEXES pilot demonstrations, to ensure that those stakeholders’ expectations are met and to build trust, credibility and social acceptance of the new functionalities as key enablers to the transformation of emergency services across Europe.
Enjoy the video produced by SPLETNA TV.
Spletna TV je bila na predstavitvi pilotnega projekta NEXES, ki ga delajo tudi za gluhe. Uporaben bo za vse klice v sili (nesreče, naravne katastrofe, požari in podobno). S klicnim centrom pa se boste lahko povezali s pomočjo videoklica. Predstavitve so se udeležili tudi predstavniki ZDGNS, ki so program preizkusili in razvijalcem zaupali, kje je še prostor za izboljšave. Kaj jim je bilo všeč in kaj bi izboljšali, izveste kmalu na Spletni TV.
Posted by Spletna TV on Thursday, April 13, 2017
And a lot of media buzz:
- Slovenian Press agency: http://www.o-sta.net/msg.php?t=5&id=19729
- Slovenian Press agency: http://o-sta.sta.si/msg.php?id=19694
- Association of Deaf and Hearing Society of Slovenia: http://www.zveza-gns.si/novice/projekt-nexes/
- UL site: http://www.fe.uni-lj.si/aktualno/novice/2017033110573755/
- UL Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=Fakulteta%20za%20elektrotehniko%2C%20nexes
- UL FE site: http://www.ltfe.org/aktualno/na-ljubljanski-fakulteti-za-elektrotehniko-bodo-predstavili-nove-resitve-razvojnega-projekta-nexes/
- UL FE Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/search/str/Laboratorij+za+telekomunikacije+Fakultete+za+elektrotehniko%2C+nexes/keywords_top