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EMTEL overview

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EMTEL overview

Emergency communications - EMTEL - a multifaceted concept

The concept of Emergency communications (EMTEL) addresses a broad spectrum of aspects related to the provisioning of communications services in emergency situations.

Emergency situations may range from a narrow perspective of an individual being in a state of personal emergency (with need to make an emergency call due to sudden illness, traffic accident, outbreak of fire in the home...) to a very broad perspective of serious disruptions to the functioning of society (viz. disaster situations due to events or processes such as earthquakes, floods, large scale terrorist attacks, etc.).

The concept also covers the communications needs of society's dedicated resources for ensuring public safety; including police forces, firefighting units, ambulance services and other health and medical services, as well as civil defence services. The communications needs of such services have been satisfied by dedicated networks and equipment, often different for different services, but with current technology it is possible to increasingly integrate such services with the public communications services.

Terrestrial and satellite radio/TV broadcasting and Internet services provide means for dissemination of information to the general public, in particular in hazardous and disaster situations.

Communications means may also be increasingly used as parts of various community functions such as health services (e.g. remote patient monitoring to reduce need for hospitalization).

EMTEL standardization is important

Interoperability and interfacing of services and systems are of paramount importance in emergency communications. Authorities and public safety organizations shall be able to communicate across services, and ideally also across borders, to ensure the efficiency and safety of their personnel. Dedicated equipment and priority access are other crucial requirements. Public networks can quickly become saturated in an emergency situation. Standards are needed to make all this possible, and you can help shape the development of these standards in ETSI.

The organization of emergency and public safety services may vary from country to country, depending on how the society is structured. Citizens are increasingly mobile. They travel for business, for holiday, etc. In order to provide an optimum level of security and accessibility to these citizens in emergency situations, the emergency communications services need harmonization.

Likewise, to be able to cooperatively utilize the public safety resources of different countries in an effective manner, not only at cross-border operations but also at joint operations in disaster situations, communications networks and equipment shall be able to cooperate.

Coordinated standardization activities are necessary, not only between those technical committees within a Standards Development Organization (SDO) that address the various communications solutions that support emergency communications, but also in the form of collaboration between the various SDOs.

Current work programme and documents published by SC EMTEL available here.