The Edge of NEXES

Led by OMN, the Edge of NEXES WP focuses on the development of NEXES’s mobile components, the emergency mobile applications for citizens, including citizens experiencing disability or special needs, and First Responders. It also includes the analysis of the work already performed and in development to define a pan-European standard for emergency Apps. It will establish the NEXES key features to empower next generation emergency services as well as the creation of the NEXES Application Programming Interface (API) for emergency Apps, aiming to promote a diversified ecosystem of emergency Apps based on the NEXES’s vision.
The work carried out in WP4 – The Edge of NEXES is centred in three tasks:

  • Task 4.1 – Definition of a Pan-European Standard for Emergency Apps;
  • Task 4.2 – Emergency App API;
  • Task 4.3 – Emergency Apps for Citizens.
  • Task 4.4 – Emergency Apps for FRs (not yet started)

 

Task 4.1 – Definition of a Pan-European Standard for Emergency Apps

Led by DW, this task reviewed past and ongoing work conducted to define and implement a pan-European standard to access emergency services through Apps. Applying EENA’s recommendations on 112 App requirements and the PEMEA architecture, the envisaged NEXES Pan-European Specifications for Emergency Apps (PESEA) includes advanced functionalities, supports multimedia services (real-time text, audio, images and video), processes and workflows, data exchange specifications (for example, extensions to the Minimum Set of Data or device location), capabilities, protocols and existing standards, where available. References to In Case of Emergency data and pre-defined emergency messages were addressed, as well as translation services for different EU languages and the Turkish language, ensuring that emergency Apps following this standard can be used in Europe and beyond (Turkey) and deliver a fully harmonised emergency call-taking capability.

DW shared valuable know-how and numerous materials from EENA on the pan-European 112 App and the PEMEA architecture (DW is active in ETSI’s standardisation effort involving PEMEA). Also relevant to this task was the involvement of OMN in ETSI’s Special Committee on Emergency Communications (EMTEL) working group on the application of Total Conversation for emergency services access, including the use of relay services (STF 489). The adaptation of the PEMEA architecture in the NEXES Action, comprising functional entities and proposed data and voice flows, is illustrated in the following figure:

PEMEA in NEXES
PEMEA in NEXES

In accordance to NEXES’s PESEA, the architecture for emergency Apps to support TC is:

NEXES Total Conversation and Apps Architecture
NEXES Total Conversation and Apps Architecture

The NEXES participants in Task 4.1 extensively discussed the exchange of ancillary data via PEMEA, the Total Conversation over SIP and WebRTC. Concerning interfaces and data formats it was agreed that, for simplicity sake, the PESEA would consider three types of messages:

  • The Emergency Data Send (EDS) message, sent from the Application Provider (AP) to the PSAP Service Provider (PSP) and then through the PEMEA network to the terminating-PSP, if necessary.
  • The Emergency Data Received (EDR) message, sent from a receiving node to the sending node; this message includes a reference to whether the message was sent on to another node, and the identity of that node.
  • The Error message, sent to the sending node if the EDS cannot be forwarded for some reason.

Task 4.1 also conducted an exploratory effort involving the access to emergency services by automated emergency calls, namely eCall and the use of smart devices. Data structures were defined to enable the augmented information that allows vehicle or sensor-initiated emergency requests to be adequately handled by emergency services (an effort to be further pursued in WP6 – Automated, Smart and Social).

NEXES’s Pan-European Standard for Emergency Apps (PESEA) is the foundation of WP4, combining existing standards and a Next Generation approach that upholds the use of mobile devices and dedicated emergency Apps to reach emergency services. The PESEA specification and architecture perform as a framework for the implementation of the NEXES App API and of the emergency Apps for citizens and for First Responders.

With the completion of the task’s activities, the attainment of the task’s objectives and the submission of Deliverable D4.1 – Overview of NEXES App Framework for Pan-European Next Generation Emergency Services, Task 4.1 is closed.

 

Task 4.2 – Emergency Apps API

Led by OMN, this task leveraged on the results of Task 4.1 to develop an open source emergency App API focused on the common components of emergency Apps for next generation emergency services: the connection to the IMS, the SIP protocols for call initiation, codecs for video, the interface for device data exchange, CAP alerts and notification and GNSS-formatted location information. To the best of the NEXES partners’ ability, already available open source components, standards and protocols were adopted to build the API, including source code, binaries and supporting documentation. This option intended to empower the NEXES App API’s dissemination and broad adoption by a large developer community, thus contributing to promote the NEXES results and create a rich NEXES-based emergency App ecosystem, delivering more and better functionalities for citizens and contributing to a wider NEXES’s impact.

The next figure illustrates the several NEXES App API components and their relationships and it identifies the assigned partners for their development: native calling and WebRTC (UL), NEXES wrapper and TC (OMN), location handler (DW) and user data handler (RIN).

The NEXES App API Components and Their Relationships
The NEXES App API Components and Their Relationships

The NEXES App API components are divided into two sets based on their primary function:

  • The calling components that handle the different ways of placing or receiving emergency calls:
    • The NEXES Wrapper (combined with the Linphone core library) that conveys SIP;
    • the WebRTC calling; and
    • the native calling.
  • the data handling components that enable the storage, handling and transfer of additional data to the recipient (emergency services), including location data, medical data and contact information:
    • the location data handler;
    • the user data handler; and
    • the data sender/receiver.
Through the NEXES GitLab source code repository, the NEXES Emergency App API for Android is ready and accessible to third-party developers:

Interested third-party developers can compile a NEXES Mini Demo App, developed as part of this Task, to verify the NEXES App API delivered functionality: placing emergency calls, enjoying a TC capability, providing location information and sending language information. Further, Deliverable D4.2 includes the instructions on how to install the Android developer environment and compile and install the NEXES Mini Demo App.

Concerning licensing issues, the NEXES partners in Task 4.2 decided to provide each component in an independent library, with clearly defined interfaces, to allow for the separation between the components that use open source licenses and the components that have closed source codes. To the best of their knowledge, the NEXES partners followed the prevailing license agreements: the core component used for SIP signalling, media codecs is licensed under the common open source license GNU General Public License (GPL); the WebRTC component can be used freely although it requires a license in source or binary form; the location handler and server as well as the user data handler components are open source software; the native calling handler component requires an End-User License Agreement. More importantly, the main NEXES App API to be used by third-party developers is open source in any case.

With the completion of the task’s activities, the attainment of the task’s objectives and the submission of Deliverable D4.2 – Emergency App API, Task 4.2 is closed.

 

Task 4.3 – Emergency Apps for Citizens

Led by OMN, this task (on-going) is developing emergency Apps for citizens, benefiting from the NEXES partners’ existing products and solutions, as well as from the results of Tasks 4.1 and 4.2. The NEXES Apps for citizens aim to fill the gap of universal and inclusive access to emergency services, by providing video (for sign language support), real-time text, text-to-speech features and an intuitive user experience environment, with smart buttons and visual instructions to report emergencies associating device data. The Apps are also able to receive automated early warnings issued by authorities. Considering VoIP, emergency web portals, softphones and social media platforms, the NEXES Apps for citizens place a significant emphasis in the delivery of true accessibility in a universal, democratic and inclusive model. As this task evolves, participating NEXES partners ensure that user acceptance is always considered.

Involved NEXES partners have been advancing on their prototypes of the NEXES App for citizens, integrating the components made available by the NEXES App API:

  • OMN is using the NEXES mini App to improve its user interface and improve a full Total Conversation functionality to assist citizens experiencing disability in emergencies;
  • DW is working to integrate the PEMEA functionality with its Location Information Server (GeoHub) to demonstrate it in the existing client (NEXES mini App);
  • RIN is incorporating the App API functionality in its Good Citizen App, to extend its current capabilities with Total Conversation and enhanced location functions;
  • UL is developing its WebRTC-based solution, comprising a client (the NEXES mini App) and a server components to enable video calling support and the exchange of additional user information (e.g., medical information).

NEXES partners will continue to improve their emergency Apps for citizens, hosting next generation services.

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