Triple-0 system under review

The current triple-0 system, established more than 50 years ago, still relies on voice-centric technology, but almost two-thirds of calls now come from mobile phones.

The current triple-0 system, established more than 50 years ago, still relies on voice-centric technology, but almost two-thirds of calls now come from mobile phones.

FLAWS in Australia’s triple-0 emergency call system which delayed response to a recent Port Fairy road accident will be analysed during a major review instigated by the federal government.

It will look at incorporating new technology on mobile phones which potentially can supply video footage and precise location of emergency scenes.

The current triple-0 system, established more than 50 years ago, still relies on voice-centric technology, but almost two-thirds of calls now come from mobile phones.

Port Fairy accident victim Rosemary Arnold was overjoyed yesterday when The Standard told her of the national review.

“That’s absolutely magnificent news,” she said.

“I’ve had so many people contact me since my accident with similar stories about the emergency phone system.”

Ms Arnold was injured on June 15 in a car accident near Port Fairy airstrip. One of the first on the scene to assist her was Premier and South West Coast MP  Denis Napthine who happened to be passing by. 

Confusion over names of the road made it difficult for the emergency call centre operator to give a specific location to the ambulance service because locals knew it as golf club road and Woodbine Road whereas the call centre’s mapping system had it as Skenes Road.

The Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA), which is contracted to run the call centre, has been campaigning for phone companies to activate technology that identifies GPS locations.

Yesterday, federal Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the review would consider changes needed in the next five to 10 years and guidelines for the next tender process for the triple-0 contract to be issued by June 2016.

“Emerging technologies are creating new opportunities for the triple-0 service beyond the current voice-only service,”  he said.

Services such as the Emergency+ smartphone application which displayed GPS co-ordinates for callers to read out has been listed as an example of what could be incorporated.

However, it would be much better if that type of data was relayed automatically to triple-0, he said.

Mr Turnbull has also highlighted a NSW project looking at using the video, still picture and geo-spatial capacity in mobile phones plus technology that can automatically dial triple-0 when car airbags are activated and display images of the scene.

Individuals and organisations are invited to complete an online survey or make a written submission by August 22.

Details are available on the Department of Communications website and submissions will be posted online periodically.

A report on the review is expected to be released by March next year.

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