Its been a while we talked about SMS for Emergency purposes and eCall. A new study item in 3GPP has looked at non-voice alternatives for Emergency purposes.
Picture Source: Dailymail
The following is from the recent 4G Americas report entitled: 4G Mobile Broadband Evolution: 3GPP Release-10 and Beyond:
Non-verbal communications such as text messaging and instant messaging via wireless devices has been very successful and continues to expand. Many of the consumers assume that they can utilize these types of non-verbal communications as mechanisms to communicate with emergency services whenever emergency assistance is required. Such mechanisms currently do not exist. The Emergency Services community has a desire to have multimedia emergency services supported with the same general characteristics as emergency voice calls.
Currently, service requirements for emergency calls (with or without the IP Multimedia Core Network) are limited to voice media. The Non-Voice Emergency Services (NOVES) is intended to be an end-to-end citizen to authority communications. NOVES could support the following examples of non-verbal communications to an emergency services network:
1. Text messages from citizen to emergency services
2. Session-based and session-less instant messaging type sessions with emergency services
3. Multimedia (e.g., pictures, video clips) transfer to emergency services either during or after other communications with emergency services.
4. Real-time video session with emergency services
In addition, to support the general public, this capability would facilitate emergency communications to emergency services by individuals with special needs (e.g., hearing impaired citizens).
The objectives of this study include the following questions for NOVES with media other than or in addition to voice:
1. What are the requirements for NOVES?
2. What are the security, reliability, and priority handling requirements for NOVES?
3. How is the appropriate recipient emergency services system (e.g., PSAP) determined?
4. What are the implications due to roaming?
5. Are there any implications to hand over between access networks?
6. Are there any implications due to the subscriber crossing a PSAP boundary during NOVES communications (e.g., subsequent text messages should go to the same PSAP)?
7. Do multiple communication streams (e.g., voice, text, video emergency services) need to be associated together?
8. What types of “call-back” capabilities are required?
9. What are the load impacts of NOVES in the case of a large scale emergency event or malicious use?
NOVES will be applicable to GPRS (GERAN, UTRAN) and to EPS (GERAN, UTRAN, E-UTRAN and non-3GPP). The content may be transmitted between the subscribers and the emergency services which might bring new security issues. Therefore, the security impacts need to be studied.
You can spend your weekend reading the 3GPP Study Item TR 22.871: Study on Non-Voice Emergency Services (Release 11).
A word of caution, the name NOVES may be changed in future as Emergency agencies in Europe have an objection to the name. See here and here.