Shared objectives of both standards
All over the world, people expect to be able to contact emergency services with technologies they use to communicate with every day. Thus, Europeans have clear expectations about the availability of 112 emergency services with enhanced capabilities being the same as technologies used in daily life.
However, the existing legacy emergency services infrastructure (circuit switched telephony for 112 telephone calls, not data) is not designed in a way that enables interaction with enhanced services, so current and future communications and operational requirements cannot be met.
For several reasons, the emergency services infrastructure has not kept up with technology, thus, is not able to provide the level of service that the public expects.
Hence, new technologies with new architectures are needed to enable people to contact emergency services in different ways, using the similar types of technologies that they use to communicate every day.
It also makes it possible for 112 PSAPs (Public Safety Answering Points) to receive more and better information about emergencies, of all magnitudes, and improves interoperability between emergency services. Consequently, response times and operation costs are reduced, while effective response increases significantly.
There are some differences between NG112 and the PEMEA technical approaches but both try to address three major objectives:
1.Communication between the public and emergency services
Both standards define reliable and secure communication frameworks, which are designed to enable people to reach an authority (e.g., PSAP) by calls using voice, text messaging, real-time text, pictures and video.
Both also provide emergency services with more data, such as location and detailed user data. They enable the delivery of calls, messages and data to the appropriate PSAP and other emergency entities, and add significant value to the call handling process.
2.Open Standards approach
Both standards are based on Internet Protocol (IP)-network based standard interfaces between the communications components.
3.Based on EU authorities requirements
Both standards are underlying technical principles, which are closely aligned with and PSAP requirements, including personal data protection.
NG112 standard rationale and assumptions
NG112 standard is a communication framework defined by ETSI (TS 103.479) designed to evolve the 112 emergency systems, so that they can connect to the “all IP” communication service providers and replace the traditional two-way voice telephone call capabilities by full featured multimedia capabilities.
The idea of NG112 is to offer the communication service providers (mainly regulated telephony operators) and PSAPs a stable standard based on SIP*, which specifies the way the communication service providers need to adapt their solutions to get connected to PSAPs and how the PSAPs can manage this communication in their networks.
The solution is designed to replace traditional telephony services using IP as the network layer.
It imitates telephony communication, using a forward connecting service approach, with a clear definition by the caller of what the communication should be: audio, video, messaging, etc.
If the communication service providers are not native SIP-based, then the NG112 standard suggests the use of ‘translation gateways’ from its original protocols to SIP, prior to being presented to the PSAP network.
In this sense, today, the NG112 standard already describes a Legacy PSAP Gateway (LPG) to ‘translate’ Circuit Switch based calls into IP SIP based calls.
*SIP: Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is a signaling protocol used for initiating, maintaining, and terminating real-time sessions that include voice, video and messaging applications.
PEMEA standard rationale
PEMEA (Pan European Mobile Emergency Application) is a communication framework defined by ETSI (TS 103.478) designed to enable the multimedia communication between internet communication applications (mobile, tablet, native, browser-based apps) and 112 emergency systems, so that these applications are able to roam around Europe.
The idea of PEMEA is to offer these App providers and PSAPs a stable standard based on typical web-based communication (e.g. HTTP), as an alternative to the SIP-based communication framework defined by the NG112 standard.
The approach of PEMEA is to offer the Apps and the PSAP systems procedures that allow them to share their “communication capabilities” and negotiate them prior to establish the communication channel. Depending on the shared communication capabilities, one or more communication channels could be used to establish the communication between the citizens using the App with the call taker at the PSAP.
In summary, when the communication service providers are not using SIP, PEMEA presents several other communication alternatives, which also easily fit with the PSAP capabilities.
Why both standards are needed… A complementary mission
NG112 design is aligned with the plans of the major part of the public network operators, which are planning to offer SIP-based communication for the next generation networks (4G, 5G, etc.). It also defines gateways that enable legacy telephony circuit switched networks to deliver SIP-based calls to PSAPs.
The NG112 technical specification is not totally aligned with Internet application providers that are not using SIP-based communications.
The NG112 specification suggest these kind of providers need to adapt their solutions to communicate with PSAPs using ‘translation gateways’ that convert the messages from their original protocols to SIP, prior to being presented to the PSAP network.
The NG112 specification is also requesting them the use of the “forward connecting service approach”, requiring a clear definition by the calling entity of what the communication should be (video, Audio, messaging, etc.) before establishing the communication.
This approach is frequently incompatible with other mechanisms that operate on recipient service decisions.When the migration path to SIP for emergency calling is challenging for Application providers they are less inclined to provide connectivity to PSAPs.
These challenges may be due to different protocol semantics, effort, investment or quality concerns. PEMEA is ideal to avoid this potential barrier and facilitate the communication through the most usual web-based communication procedures in a secure and controlled way. Technologies such as Web-RTC for Video and Audio, instant messaging over HTTPS, sftp or https based file sharing systems.
The implementation of both NG112 and PEMEA enables PSAPs to the provide the best service to the public. Having both solutions enables the creation shared and scalable multimedia services, in line with telephony operator networks and Internet application provider communication approaches.
This approach generalizes all forms of communication, meeting the needs of the public, including those roaming across Europe using different languages and communities such as that of the deaf and hard of hearing.
Design of the interoperability between standards
Understanding the complementary mission of both standards, it is important to nurture the interoperability between the PEMEA and NG112 network solutions, so that all every-day communication applications used by the public can access emergency services in a homogenous way for PSAP call takers.
A work item has been opened in ETSI to facilitate interoperability and resource sharing between PEMEA and NG112 entities.
ESInet and PEMEA solutions must be able to reuse key network elements to ensure consistent results for the public and emergency organizations, eliminating replication and supporting both service delivery mechanisms providing for all-encompassing emergency service access.
The work item will focus, among others, on the following subjects:
- How PEMEA signalling can contribute to route SIP calls to the proper BCF (e.g. in roaming conditions)_ Border Control Function – in charge of security access to the Emergency Network
- How PEMEA could query the ECRF (Emergency Call Routing Function – entity that maintains location to service boundary mappings to provide destination URLs) using the LoST protocol so that PEMEA can route to the same end point as the routed SIP calls
- How the ESRP (Emergency Services Routing Proxy uses location information to query the ECRF to get the destination PSAP address for a SIP message) and PEMEA nodes may share policy routing information
- How PEMEA signalling can be used to establish media traffic channels to the proper Media servers.
Bertrand Casse has been working for 7 years at Deveryware.
He is the Operational Director of GHALE emergency App routing platform.
He is also responsible for this platform’s compliance with PEMEA standard (Pan European Mobile Emergency Application).
He is a member of the European Emergency Number Association (EENA) Operational Committee.
Where he officiates as Vice-President on operational and technical questions related to emergency services.
James Wintebottom is the Chief Architect and Product Manager for Deveryware’s GHALE product suite.
Considered by some as the “Father of PEMEA”, James has extensive experience in protocol development, location platforms and system deployments for use in emergency communications.
As a disruptive technologist, James is committed to WEB-112 services ensuring reliable and cost-effective emergency solutions meeting the needs of current and future generations that are using application-based communications.
Javier Cabas is the Business Development director for Deveryware’s GHALE product suite.
He has an extensive experience in the telecommunication market and the design and provision of Emergency solutions like Enhanced 112 and Public Warning system. He is an expert in mobile geolocation and have a great experience in complex project management for multinationals.
For the past 2 years, he has been actively involved in ensuring that the functionalities of the GHALE product meet the client’s expectations. He brings his energy and vision to support the deployment of PEMEA.