New cars in Europe need to be equipped with eCall system from 1 May 2018
From 1 May 2018 onwards, all new cars sold in the European Union will be required to have an eCall alarm system on board. This is a built-in device that automatically calls the emergency services in case of an accident in which one or more of the car's airbags have been triggered. The car sends the GPS coordinates so the alarm centre knows where to send assistance to.
According to the European Commission, eCall can save up to 2,500 lives a year. The eCall system saves time as no human intervention is needed to call the emergency services.
It is not mandatory to retrofit eCall devices on older cars. Upgrade systems will first have an emergency call centre try to contact the driver whereas in-built eCall devices will directly contact the emergency services.
Naturally, car manufacturers haven't waited for 1 May. They have all developed their own connectivity systems that enable their cars to call for assistance when needed. Charges for the service will be manufacturer-specific. Most also provide additional telematics services.
BMW, for instance, is the first manufacturer to have developed a platform where third parties can buy disclosed telematics data.
Many other car manufacturers and service providers are developing platforms to analyse and use telematics data and provide new levels of service, hoping to attract and bind customers to their product.
Response times for the emergency services may benefit from the eCall system but there are also privacy concerns. Depending on the implementation of the system, it may become activated without a crash taking place. Moreover, the car occupants have no control over the remote activation of the microphone, making it vulnerable to eavesdropping.
The 2nd National Telematics Congress in the Netherlands will focus on the consequences of the eCall regulations for companies. It takes place on 19 April in Fort Wierickerschans, Bodegraven. Speakers include Ken van Ierlandt of Virtual Clarity, an expert on digital platforms, Bas van der Zijden of BMW Group the Netherlands and Robert Stevens, manager of GroupAuto International.