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Emergency services dial up speed for 111 mobile calls

Emergency calls made to 111 from all mobile phones in New Zealand are to have verified locations, aiding a faster response from the country’s emergency services.

Enhancements announced by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to the Emergency Caller Location Information (ECLI) service are potentially life-saving.

The updates see the ECLI service extended to all mobile phone calls to 111, and increasing the number of calls supported by high-precision location - including calls from basic, non-internet capable phones and by international visitors roaming on a New Zealand network.

Assisting MBIE, MinterEllisonRuddWatts Senior Associate Peter Fernando advised on technology and commercial contracts underpinning these enhancements, as this complex project involved MBIE engaging multiple parties who were working together for a common goal.

"ECLI is a complex commercial environment involving an array of suppliers to deliver specialised services that requires an adaptive partnering approach to the contractual arrangements," says Ben Quay, ECLI Programme Director.

"Peter is a critical part of the ECLI delivery team and working with him and the broader MinterEllisonRuddWatts team has been, and will continue to be, highly successful."

Introduced in New Zealand in May 2017, the ECLI service provides high-precision location information for smartphones running Google’s Android system - about 70 per cent of the New Zealand market - and lower-precision location information for most other mobile devices. The high-precision location solution was extended to mobile phones running Apple’s iOS operating system in April 2018.

"In an emergency, being able to pinpoint the exact location of a call makes a massive difference to the outcome," says Peter Fernando.

"The technology allows for faster answers to calls for help, with emergency response teams better able to reach people needing help quickly.

"I’m incredibly proud to be part of the team improving connectivity for Kiwis and tourists needing help in an emergency."

In its first year, ECLI helped verify locations of almost 400,000 emergency calls. When the new enhancements are complete, this number is expected to jump to 780,000.

The ECLI service is overseen by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and run in partnership with emergency services (New Zealand Police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, St John and Wellington Free Ambulance), Datacom, Comtech Telecommunications Corp, and mobile network operators 2degrees, Spark and Vodafone.


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