Text by: Alexis GIZIKIS – Project Manager – European Emergency Number Association (EENA112)

In a previous blog post, we mentioned the use of emergency applications on smartphones as a means to reach emergency services. In this post we provide a short answer to the question: how can these apps work when you are travelling in another country and how was this implemented in WAOW Tool?

In the analysis conducted in WorkingAge, emergency apps refer to smartphone apps that offer a way to make an emergency call to 112 or another emergency number. There are several emergency apps with varying degrees of functionality, covering use cases with communication flows from citizens to authorities (C2A) and authorities to citizens (A2C). A common pattern amongst these apps is to allow the user to start an emergency call, while the location of the caller is calculated by the handset and sent to the most appropriate Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP – the call centre answering the emergency call).

Emergency applications emerged to respond to the need for accurate caller location in an emergency call. Although they fulfil the need for accurate location, a new challenge emerged. How to ensure they can be used across different countries or even, in some cases, across different regions within the same country? The applications that first appeared usually worked in limited territories, regional or national, and lacked a common framework for easy interconnection when the user is traveling away from the region covered by the application. The limitation also prohibits sending the handset’s caller location to the PSAP serving the user’s location.

The Pan-European Mobile Emergency Application (PEMEA) architecture was introduced to overcome the limitation of emergency apps, specifically about apps working in restricted geographic regions and the lack of a common framework for easy interconnection when the user is traveling away from the region covered by the application. PEMEA is an architecture initiated by EENA and defined in the ETSI Technical Specification 103 478. It was tested in phase 1 and phase 2 pilot projects and in January 2021, the first emergency apps successfully joined the PEMEA network.

PEMEA was the reference architecture selected to be implemented in WAOW. The WAOW Tool development included the implementation of the entities and message flows described in the architecture’s technical specification. The resulting WAOW app is compliant with PEMEA and will be able to be fully operational in the countries supporting PEMEA.

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