112 emergency number: report examines progress towards universal service in Mediterranean partners

A European Commission report on the “access to emergency services and use of 112 in Mediterranean Partner Countries” reveals that seven partner countries of the EU-Funded civil protection programme PPRD South, including Jordan, Syria, the occupied Palestinian territory and Lebanon, already provide full access, from both fixed and mobile numbers, to 112 as an emergency number.
The report, which reviews access to emergency services in the Southern Mediterranean countries in view of the possible adoption of a single emergency call number (112) to increase the safety of citizens living, travelling and working in the Mediterranean area, says that in Lebanon and Syria, 112 is the access number for the police, who co-ordinate with other services as required. In Jordan, calls to 112 (alongside 911) are received at the new joint control rooms between the police and the civil defense. In the occupied Palestinian territory, 112 (alongside 102) is routed to the civil defence department, but the implementation of a new central 112 facility – taking calls for any service - is planned for 2011. PPRD partners Croatia, Montenegro and Turkey also provide full access to 112.
The study says that there are also plans to introduce the number in Tunisia. At the report cut-off date, there were no plans to introduce 112 in Algeria, Egypt, Israel and Morocco – the report says. In Israel, one of the mobile operators advices 112 callers to dial one of the national emergency service numbers. In Morocco, calls to 112 from mobile networks route to the police, but not from fixed networks. In Egypt, 112 is currently used for non-emergency applications, and therefore not available.
The report indicates some minimum requirements for accessing emergency services through 112. All 112 emergency calls should be free of charge and should be supported from mobile and fixed networks. They should be received by one (or more) answering points supporting multiple languages and forwarded to the appropriate service. The report also advises to make available to the answering point information on the caller location, wherever possible.
The report concludes that a 112 service with these characteristics seems technically feasible for the majority of the Partner Countries. The key challenges for the establishment of a 112 service mostly concern support from the relevant administrations and funding. The timescale for implementing 112 would be relatively short and depending on the length of time required for the respective authorities to legislate the changes. In broad terms, the costs for implementing 112 are low.
The €5 million PPRD South Programme – which runs for three years and is managed by a consortium led by the Italian Civil Protection Department together with the French, Algerian, Egyptian Civil Protection Authorities and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) – is also organising training workshops dealing with risks in the region such as wild fires, technological disasters, floods, earthquakes, epidemics and drought, among others.  (ENPI Info Centre)
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Press release
PPRD South – fiche and news  
PPRD South – website

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