Welcome to the Fourth Edition of the NEXES Newsletter!

The NEXES Research and Innovation Action is now entering its final year and NEXES partners are preparing impact generation activities for next generation emergency services with the NEXES end-user community.

In this edition of the NEXES Newsletter, we summarise the key moments of the NEXES Iteration One Campaigns of Demonstration, a period marked by the deployment of the first versions of the NEXES System and Apps, presenting a selected set of new functions and capabilities showcased and validated by end-users in several exercises and the NEXES Pilot in Slovenia. NEXES Iteration One has enabled key stakeholders to better understand NEXES’s added value and key improvements for both citizens and emergency services across Europe and beyond.

The formal Intermediate Review of the NEXES RIA took place over two days in mid-January in Rome and signalled high expectations moving forward.
NEXES successfully reached the objectives set for Milestone 4 – End Iteration One: Evaluation of Campaigns of Demonstration NEXES Iteration One and Start of Integration Activities for NEXES Iteration Two.

The groundwork undertaken during NEXES Iteration One is consolidated and thoroughly validated in the implemented Campaign of Demonstration. System refinements and the incorporation of more advanced capabilities are now underway.

In addition, NEXES is stepping up its outreach effort, aiming to get its message across to key stakeholders, including policy-makers in Europe, and the wider community: the NEXES Iteration One demonstration activities successfully engaged the user community, ranging from emergency service professionals to citizens, including those experiencing disability and special needs, and the first edition of the NEXES App Challenge called to the software developers community, fostering the build-up of a rich NEXES-based emergency Apps ecosystem.

Momentum is gathering as the Action reaches its final stage. It is therefore with great expectations that we look forward to the upcoming challenge of advocating the early adoption of next generation capabilities by emergency services across Europe.

We wish you a pleasant read and kindly invite you to continue to follow the NEXES (r)evolution at http://nexes.eu.

Marco Manso
NEXES Coordinator

To access the NEXES Newsletter No. 4, click here.

NEXES Hosts Interactive Session with Italian Emergency Services

NEXES Partners Received at the Italian Ministry of Interior To Discuss Novel Capabilities for Emergency Response

The NEXES partner Vigili del Fuoco (CNVVF) hosted a three-day NEXES Workshop to discuss the novel capabilities for emergency response, focusing on the interoperability amongst emergency services and the exchange of emergency-related information for more efficient response operations and in the international coordination mechanisms to deal with disasters and large-scale emergency situations.

The Workshop participants shared their experience and knowledge on interoperability and international coordination efforts and discussed recommendations on how to integrate relevant requirements and expectations into the NEXES innovations. The implementation of the Common Alerting Protocol and the revitalisation of early warning and public alert systems within the NEXES RIA were addressed and an improved approach on interoperability and international coordination was determined to be subject of a small-scale showcase in the final NEXES Pilot activity.

The NEXES Workshop also offered an opportunity for participants to visit the headquarters of the Italian Fire and Rescue Service in Rome and the National Fire Corps’ PSAP Level 2 centre and to learn more about the National Fire Brigade organisation, the firefighting rescue resources and the pressing challenges to respond to thousands of interventions per day. Participants experienced a set of emergency call-taking simulation at the Centre’s facility and were acquainted with the emergency management systems relevant for CNVVF’s activities. The visits proved to be quite impressive and helped to frame the scope of the discussions on interoperability amongst emergency services and their reflection in NEXES.

NEXES Reaches Milestone 4 and Starts Iteration Two Activities

The End of Iteration One Brings Forth New Capabilities for Next Generation Emergency Services

The NEXES Consortium announces today that the NEXES Research and Innovation Action successfully attained Milestone 4, marking the end of Iteration One and the beginning of the development and integration activities to build NEXES Iteration Two, with the delivery of new advanced capabilities in the NEXES System and Apps. The advanced version of NEXES will be demonstrated and validated by the NEXES end-user community across a set of exercises and two pilots (in Romania and Turkey) that will enable NEXES stakeholders to better understand NEXES’s added value, key improvements and overall impact on society.

The NEXES partners consider that all the objectives set forth for Milestone 4 were met and that the NEXES RIA gathered all the conditions to evolve towards Milestone 5. A detailed evaluation of the NEXES Campaigns of Demonstration for Iteration One was conducted, highlighting the positive assessment issued by the NEXES’s end-users community and relevant stakeholders upon the presentation of the NEXES novel propositions concerning total conversation, enhanced location information, exchange of additional user information (namely health information) and roaming capabilities. It has been duly demonstrated that the integration of Internet-enabled functionality in emergency systems does contribute to a better situational awareness of emergency operators and responders and promotes an adequate, efficient and effective emergency response.

“We are happy to have reached this important milestone with the support of numerous NEXES stakeholders.”, said Marco Manso, Director of Innovation of RINICOM and NEXES Coordinator. “It gives us a secure basis for continuing the expansion of advanced capabilities in our NEXES System and Apps for the benefit of emergency services and society as a whole. The positive end-user feedback we have received for the past months, as the NEXES Campaigns of Demonstration unfold, is an incentive for us to focus even more strongly on the interests of our stakeholders and partners.”.

NEXES App Challenge – First Edition

From March to May 2017, the NEXES partners launched the first edition of the NEXES App Challenge, a creative and interactive showcase for next generation emergency Apps, developed by innovators from all over Europe.

Promoting the openness of NEXES, the NEXES App Challenge disseminated the recently released NEXES App API and the NEXES Testbed, offering a set of next generation functionalities capable of boosting the development timelines for emergency Apps. More specifically, the NEXES App API already delivers full accessibility features to emergency services, implementing a Total Conversation model that combines audio, real-time text, images and video to serve all citizens, including those experiencing disability and having special needs. Similarly, the NEXES Testbed assisted software developers when performing functional tests of their emergency Apps to verify the next generation capabilities. Interested developers were invited to follow the website dedicated to the  NEXES App Challenge (http://nexesappchallenge.eu) and download the NEXES App API and step-up their Apps’ development cycles and to use the open NEXES Testbed to validate their Apps’ next generation capabilities.

During the 1st Edition of the NEXES App Challenge, the website had 187 visitors, who performed 61 downloads of the NEXES App API and managed to bring forth 8 submissions of next generation emergency Apps for the Challenge. These emergency Apps were:

Flayre 112 Emergency Service – Flayre App is an emergency contact platform that uses the reliability and robustness of smartphone technology to communicate critical location information via basic GSM mobile connectivity. Flayre is currently offered as a standalone App operating on Android with users in over 40 countries. The most attractive element of the Flayre service is the ‘Remote Wake’ feature which allows any permitted contact to activate a user’s location remotely, by sending them an SMS with the keyword ‘Flayre’. This in turn activates the Flayre App on the Flayre user’s phone and sends the location information by SMS to the concerned party. The Flayre App has a \’remote wake\’ service provision, meaning that it can be remotely activated by a concerned party so to send its latest location data over existing GSM connectivity and not a data network. Given the reliability of the service, it is often beneficial for users in the developing world where there is no internet access accessible.
(Contact Information: Eleanor Hayes, Business Development Representative, Eleanor@flayreapp.com,+35 3 8778 22 593).

 

LocAware – An application which monitors the location of the mobile device on which it runs and dispatches an emergency call if the mobile device -and thus, its user moves far from a predefined area. Moreover, wearable devices like smart watches are utilized in order to detect cases where the user neglects the mobile device and moves without it. The application could prove particularly useful for users with mental conditions – like dementia – or disabilities and children of small age. The application is based on the NEXES Mini App provided. The functionality of GPS monitoring and notification will be added upon. (Contact Information: Kleoniki Markou, niki.markou11@gmail.com). 

 

MDA Emergency App – A dedicated App which facilitates the management of the whole cycle of the mission in the management of a pre-hospital call, to be used by the different responders, providing real time information and allowing information sharing with the hospitals for time dependent pathologies. The system is already operative. 10’000 MDA staff and volunteers use the App on a daily basis.
(Contact Information: Chaim Rafalowski, Disaster Management and Research Coordinator, haimr@mdas.org.il, +97 2363 0 0205).

 

Pedius – Pedius is a  communication system that allows Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing individuals to make phone calls using speech recognition and synthesis technologies. Being an Italian startup, it has been evolved to have 15000 registered users in 10 countries. With Pedius App, deaf users can place a call in case of emergency to communicate the type of emergency and the position, all the information will be pronounced by an artificial voice.
(Contact Information: Lorenzo Di Ciaccio, CEO, lorenzo@pedius.org, +393282617504, Gabriele Serpi, Evangelist gabrieleserpi@gmail.com).

 

pe-SOS Emergency Call App for Smartphones with pe-SOS alert button – pe-SOS can provide help in situations, when the smartphone user is unable to reach or to handle the smartphone in case of acute emergency situations and danger (security and health problems). pe-SOS alert button novel product can activate an emergency call with the smartphone up to 20 meters far from and we are working in integration of medical data in cooperation with a German provider. Also we are working on SIP-technology based applications for a worldwide public alert system for information transmission to serve GPS tracking position of alert senders.
(Contact Information: Reinhard Mairhofer, General Manager, ticom Internetservices GmbH, r.mairhofer@ti-com.at, +43 (0) 5332 71787 11).

 

Smart Help App – An operational, secure, privacy by designed solution that is in active use within 2 official emergency call centres in Norway since 2014 has been submitted by Smart Help. The system consists of three separate scalable parts:

  • The free public SmartHelp-application (downloadable from Appstore and Playstore);
  • The Command and control system (demonstrated in above video);
  • The Secure encryption infrastructure that automatically sets up end-to-end encryption of information sharing.

The system is scalable, and based on where you are, automatically connects to the correct emergency call centre and initiate a call to the correct emergency phone number. The encryption is ultra-light weight, based on block chain and designed for expansion into IoT devices. It has been in active use in real emergencies since 2014.
(Contact Information: Fredrik Øvergård, Chief Executive Officer, fredrik@smarthelp.no / fredrik@radvice.no, +47 97 73 27 08).

 

TNO 112 Concept App TNO is an independent research organization in The Netherlands. TNO’s idea explores the possibilities of a national 112 app.  Conducting several experiments for the Dutch government, TNO 112 Concept App mainly focuses on a simplistic user interface, sharing the user’s location and enabling usage of text and video communication.
(Contact Information: Gerben Broenink, Cyber Security Specialist, gerben.broenink@tno.nl, +31 6 2350 4042; Johan van der Geest, Software Architect, johan.vandergeest@tno.nl, +31 6 4696 6190).

 

Zachránka EMS App – Aplikace Záchranka, z.ú. is a non-profit organisation engaged in the development, implementation and distribution of the Zachránka EMS app and its software in the Czech Republic. Providing the emergency medical services with accurate information can be done easily through the EMS mobile phone App. This App uses all available services like GPS, A-GPS or WPS to confirm the user’s position, which is sent directly to the emergency services as an accompanying data package or a simple text message to the emergency call. The EMS App was tested and developed in cooperation with the emergency medical services and provides the most accurate information about the caller’s position. Through the App, emergency medical services can reach the patient in a far shorter period of time, thereby increasing the patient’s overall chances of survival. Plus, it contains an interactive First Aid guide with CPR, an intuitive user manual and a user profile where users can add important info such as any serious medical conditions or allergies that their emergency first aid responder should know about.
(Contact Information: Filip Malenak, fmalenak@medicalit.eu, +42 0 7375 78 365).

 

Most of these unique Apps and ideas were presented by their own creators in the closing Open Workshop Day, held in Athens on May 30th 2017, at the premises of the Institute of Communications and Computer Systems (ICCS), the NEXES partner organising the App Challenge’s First Edition. During the Workshop, the participants had the chance to present their innovations and share and exchange experience and knowledge with NEXES partners, representatives of the Greek Center for Security Studies (KEMEA) and the Greek General Secretariat for Civil Protection, as well as with end-users from the Hellenic Police, the Hellenic Fire Corps and the Hellenic Coast Guard. Presentations from NEXES technical teams framed the discussions about the next generation emergency Apps, the NEXES developments for a first-ever reference implementation of a next generation emergency service and the challenges for current PSAP systems to migrate to an all-IP landscape.

Aside from fostering cross-fertilisation activities between the NEXES RIA and the software developers’ community, encouraging the App software developers to use and exploit the NEXES open APIs and the Testbed. Moreover, the first edition of the NEXES App Challenge clearly revealed this initiative’s relevance to encourage the creation of innovative emergency Apps and help build and enhance a rich NEXES App ecosystem, contributing to generate awareness on European research and innovation efforts in general, as well as on the European standardisation effort to harmonise emergency Apps, in particular.

The 2nd edition of the NEXES App Challenge is about to start and will last till September 2017. Its closing will be marked by a second dedicated workshop that is scheduled to be held on 20th of September in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Participants will have one more opportunity to test their emergency Apps with the open NEXES Testbed, showcase the latest Apps developed in the field of 112 App ecosystem and exchange experiences and knowledge with the European 112 experts.

Be ready to get on board!

For more information, important dates and submissions’ details, we invite you to visit NEXES App Challenge official site at: http://nexesappchallenge.eu/.

NEXES Enhances the Knowledge Base to Support Disaster Risk Management

NEXES Innovations Contribute to the Newest Publication of the EC Disaster Risk Management Knowledge Centre

The NEXES Consortium reveals that the innovations brought live by the NEXES Action on risk communication in disasters and emergencies have been addressed in the latest publication of the EC’s Disaster Risk Management Knowledge Centre (DRMKC) titled Science for Disaster Risk Management 2017 – Knowing Better and Loosing Less, published on May 2017.

NEXES partners Police University College of Finland (POLAMK) and AIMTECH Ltd are co-authors of the publication’s chapter dedicated to Good practices and innovation in risk communication, highlighting examples of best practice developed from research and practitioner work that reinforce the citizens’ participation and empowerment, namely through new technologies such as social media and emergency Apps. The newest DRMKC publication summarises the state of relevant science on disaster risk management from a European perspective and caters for the need to translate the wealth of available science into language understandable by policy makers, practitioners and scientists from other disciplines.

“It is the NEXES partners’ ambition to make a solid contribution to the enhancement of the science-policy dialogue at the national and European levels.”, said Mr. Marco Manso, the Director of Innovation at RINICOM UK and Coordinator of the NEXES RIA. “Our token to the document now published by the EC’s Disaster Risk Management Knowledge Centre is a clear step forward to act on such ambition and make available the NEXES innovations that support new communication dynamics between emergency services and citizens and the overall improvement of risk awareness to reduce losses.”

NEXES Contributes to Inclusive Disaster Management

NEXES Results Shared with the European Disability Forum and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

The European Union of the Deaf (EUD) was invited by the European Disability Forum (EDF) to present the NEXES experience and results at the Workshop on Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction, organised by EDF in cooperation with the Christian Blind Mission (CBM) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), in Brussels, Belgium, on May 17th 2017.

Participants to the Workshop shared their experiences in inclusive disaster risk reduction in Europe and discussed recommendations and future actions to be taken so as to bring the perspectives of disabled people’s organisations in Europe to the work on inclusive disaster risk reduction (DRR), helping to implement the Sendai Framework for Action in Europe. A range of rich experiences showed that good practice in the field of inclusive DRR in Europe are emerging and, amongst those, a special highlight was made by EUD presenting NEXES and its innovative proposition to create accessible and inclusive emergency services, including public alert systems.

NEXES’s participation at the EDF’s Workshop provided the opportunity to disseminate the NEXES’s achievements with respect to accessibility and inclusiveness to an audience that represents a relevant stakeholder to the NEXES Action and performs a key role in the process of building awareness on NEXES’s societal impact at the European policy-making realm.

 

NEXES Pilot in Slovenia

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:

NEXES Exercise with the Turkish Emergency Services

On March 17th 2017, AAHD organised a NEXES exercise involving forty-three representatives of eighteen organisations that are relevant stakeholders within the Turkish emergency service and members of the NEXES end-users community: the Izmir Ambulance Service, the Izmir Fire Department, the Izmir Police Department, the Izmir Metro, the Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics Association, the Izmir North Public Hospitals Union, the Aegean Young Businessmen Association, the Turkish Radio Amateurs Association, the Urla Training and Simulation Centre, the Dokuz Eylul University Distant Learning and Practice Centre, the Prevention of Communicable Diseases Association, the TUPRAS Izmir Refinery, the Paramedic School of the Izmir Economics University, the Izmir Provincial Health Directory, the Izmir Disaster and Emergency Management Directory, the Izmir Governor Crisis Centre, the Izmir 112 Single Number Directory and the Izmir Municipality IT Department. Each representative has extensive expertise and experience in the fields of emergency preparedness, response and recovery.

Intending to highlight the differences between the existing Turkish command control centre for emergencies and the new features proposed by NEXES, the Exercise considered two different NEXES Reference Scenarios, one involving a traffic collision and another exploiting a sudden medical incident, namely a cardiac arrest. The first scenario aimed to explore accessibility features, communication difficulties and location capabilities, whereas the second scenario focused on the PSAP operators’ situational awareness and the delivery of medical instructions prior to the arrival onsite of first responders. To best capture the involved participants’ attention and feedback, the exercise combined a table-top approach and a live simulation.

After the unfolding of the exercise, participants enthusiastically shared their views and opinions on the new capabilities brought by NEXES. From the emergency service professionals’ perspective, NEXES comprises valuable new communication channels for citizens to reach emergency services and provides added features that facilitates the PSAP operator to become fully aware of the whole emergency situation and decide on the adequate assets to dispatch. The Turkish representatives were very impressed with NEXES’s video ability, enabling scene management before the arrival of First Responders, significantly improving the timing of emergency management, namely in situations of mass casualty incidents. Similarly, PSAP operators were very interested in the possibility to receive the victim’s medical history and combine it with the data retrieved from personal health apps. Through the NEXES App, it was also recognised the benefits of providing instructions to the caller on how to proceed or act, even correcting inadequate interventions by bystanders, thus allowing first aid interventions to start earlier on scene. There was a general acknowledgment of the positive impact that NEXES might exert on the increase of survival rates.

As far as the concerns expressed by the Turkish emergency professionals, the highlight is placed on the need for additional resources to handle the new information sources. The NEXES’s reliance on smartphones and new Internet-based technologies also raises concern with respect to the population’s ability to own and use these technologies. To address these concerns, it was suggested that emergency services need to review emergency procedures to accommodate the new technologies and determine the need for additional human resources in the PSAP centre. It was also suggested that public authorities and emergency services develop a large communication campaign to raising citizen’s awareness to the NEXES App, explaining how citizens should use and benefit from the App, as part of the public training for emergencies.

Concerning specific new features on the NEXES App, the emergency responders believe to be relevant the enabling of the option to easily reverse the camera’s direction, the inclusion of an icon to indicate at all times the battery situation and the level of Internet connectivity and the pre-definition of the different languages supported by the App. NEXES’s ambition to empower emergency calls from laptops, tablets and computers is also highly praised, and it is suggested to also enable the NEXES App to run on smart televisions. The Turkish emergency services professionals have volunteered to test NEXES in a mass causality incident environment.

With respect to the observations made by the citizens participating in the NEXES exercise, they mostly underline the recognition of the benefits of the NEXES’s total conversation capabilities and the improved accessibility of deaf and blind citizens to emergency services. It is also stressed the NEXES’s relevant contribution to a faster response by first responder teams, while enabling the delivery of necessary instructions to bystanders. It was also agreed that the NEXES user interface was very simple, intuitive and easy to use, therefore highly suitable for the distress and panic felt in emergency situations.

The major concerns were focused on the NEXES’s ability to deliver improved location information in multi-floor buildings and the NEXES App disconnect button, with a single pressure terminating the App. Because this may prompt accidental disconnections, it is suggested to add a message clarifying if the user wants to discontinue the NEXES App with a Yes/No option. Other propositions refer to the possibility of PSAP operators retrieving automatically the phone’s location information. Specifically on the NEXES App, the participants recommended that an enter button is included in the message feature (reassuring the message has been sent), the possibility to enlarge the text font, the addition of information notes and instructive videos to be provided by emergency services to the caller (also contributing to enhance the public emergency training).

The feedback gathered from the NEXES Exercise with the Turkish Emergency Services is instrumental to continue the innovative development work in the project concerning the NEXES App for citizens and of the next generation PSAP systems.

Two videos presented below were produced by AAHD.

  • The video below demonstrates how NEXES can improve emergency response in case of a citizen suffering from speech impairment.

  • The video below demonstrates how NEXES can improve emergency response in case of a citizen suffering from a cardiac arrest.

NEXES Stars At the XXV Forum of 112 Services in Spain

Addressing the Relevance of PESEA for the Next Generation Emergency Services

The NEXES Consortium was invited to present the novel propositions for a next generation emergency service to the 112 regional directors across Spain, gathered to discuss the latest innovations, regulation and standards applicable to the emergency sector at the XXV Foro Nacional de Directores Y Responsables De Centros 112 De Comunidades Autónomas De España, hosted by the autonomous city of Ceuta, from March 8th to 10th 2017, in Spain.

The XXV National Forum for 112 Emergency Centres became familiar with the NEXES’s propositions on the Pan-European Specifications for Emergency Applications (PESEA) and the use of the PEMEA architecture to enable citizens using the NEXES App or any NEXES-compliant emergency App to reach emergency services anywhere in Europe, providing their precise location and additional personal information, including health information and in case of emergency contacts, while meeting the relevant requirements on functionality, cost, security and privacy. This technical meeting also enabled a broad discussion on emergency Apps and the benefits of automated emergency calls, including the use of the next generation eCall system, all issues currently tackled by the NEXES endeavour.

This event served the opportunity to disseminate the NEXES results before an audience of emergency stakeholders that are part of the NEXES end-users community, thus contributing to widen the scope of NEXES’s communication activities and promote additional societal impact as the NEXES results become known across the European emergency services.

 

The two videos below (in English and Spanish respectively) demonstrate the NEXES PESEA implementation in action.

 

 

NEXES Fosters Accessible Emergency Products and Services

Next Generation Emergency Services at the EC Workshop on Accessibility of Products and Services

The NEXES achievements on the successful implementation of the Total Conversation capabilities, combining voice and video calls and real-time text messaging, was a central theme at the Workshop on Accessibility of Products and Services organised by the European Commission’s DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion on February 2nd and 3rd 2017, at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Brussels.

The high-level policy Workshop was sponsored with the ambition to prepare the adoption of the EU Accessibility Act and promote the implementation of accessibility measures in general. Represented by Gunnar Hellström (Omnitor) and Johan Verstraete (European Union of the Deaf), the NEXES Consortium delivered a presentation and made a detailed demonstration of NEXES’s next generation emergency services capabilities, namely video calls and real-time texting, providing new communication tools for citizens to reach emergency services. This demonstration was particularly helpful to highlight the usefulness of the new emergency communication technologies, as a citizen used the NEXES App to establish an emergency call using audio, real-time text and video channels with the Windows-based NEXES PSAP workstation. In cases where the citizen requiring assistance is deaf, the opportunity to use real-time texting or video (for sign language) can save precious time. In addition, the demonstration underlined the beyond state-of-the-art location information provided by NEXES to emergency services, contributing to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the whole emergency response.

NEXES achievements to ensure a more universal, democratic and inclusive emergency service were duly recognised by an audience of 150 policy-makers from the European Commission, the European Parliament and the US Federal Communications Commission. Commissioner Marianne Thyssen and the deaf MEP Helga Stevens particularly emphasised the impressive level of seriousness and technological advance exhibited by NEXES. Overall, the Workshop on Accessibility of Products and Services was a relevant dissemination opportunity for NEXES to encourage the broad adoption of advanced communication and information technologies by emergency services for society’s benefit.