The European Union has recently finalised the legislation for the mandatory deployment of eCall emergency services in new types of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles across the Union - the Regulation “concerning type-approval requirements for the deployment of the eCall in-vehicle system based on the 112 service” 2015/758 (the Regulation).

What is eCall?

An eCall equipped vehicle will automatically call the nearest emergency centre in the event of an accident and provide the emergency centre with a minimum set of data and an audio channel between the vehicle and the most appropriate public safety answering point via a mobile wireless communication network available to the public. The EU anticipates this will save a significant number of lives as emergency response times are reduced.

The UK Government opposed the legislation, concluding that the costs of implementation outweighed any benefits of mandatory deployment. The requirement will be introduced through a type approval and will apply to applicable vehicles manufactured after 31 March 2018.

Third Party Services

Of particular interest is the interaction between the 112-based eCall service (which is a public service and which shall be free of charge to consumers) and any Third Party Services (TPS) or added value services that function on top of it.

TPS can co-exist with the mandatory eCall systems but all applicable vehicles shall be fitted with the base line eCall system regardless of any TPS systems. TPS or additional services will need to be designed so as to not increase driver distraction or affect the base line 112-based eCall service and any TPS shall always be optional to consumers.

There will also be different expectations in respect of data protection and privacy between 112-based eCall and additional TPS systems.

Data Protection and Privacy Issues

Any processing of personal data will need to be done in accordance with applicable data protection laws with the expectation that the Data Protection Regulation shall take effect at a similar time to mandatory implementation of e-Call. Manufacturers are expected to integrate technical forms of data protection and comply with the principle of ‘privacy by design’ from the outset.

Personal data processed as part of the 112-based eCall system shall not be retained longer than necessary, shall be fully deletable and deleted after use and shall be automatically and continuously deleted  with no more than three previous location data sets being retained at any one time. The exchange of data between the 112-based eCall system and any TPS will be strictly prohibited and personal data shall not be available outside of the 112-based eCall system before the eCall is triggered. However, data processed by Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) (the receivers and handlers of eCalls) through the eCall system can be transferred to third parties where the data subject (consumer) has given explicit consent for such a transfer.

Vehicles are not allowed to be traced or constantly tracked by an in-vehicle eCall system and only a minimum data package is allowed to be transmitted, such transmissions only being permitted in an eCall situation.

Technical requirements and test procedures associated with data protection and privacy will be adopted by the Commission by 9 June 2016.

Specific Manufacturer Obligations

Manufacturers are under an obligation to ensure that all applicable vehicles and 112-based eCall systems, components and separate technical units are manufactured and approved in accordance with the Regulation and any delegated or implementing acts adopted pursuant to it.

Specifically, it will need to be shown that both automatic and manual triggering of the eCall system is available, that automatic sensorstrigger in instances where a TPS fails and that a warning light is installed to highlight complete system failure.

All 112-based eCall in-vehicle systems will need to be fully tested and approved before use and vehicle owners should be given the choice of using the 112-based eCall system instead of any TPS at any time. This will need to be considered further by any TPS considering subscription based services.

Manufacturer Guide Books

Consumers should be given a realistic overview of the eCall in-vehicle service, including any TPS added value services and associated costs. As part of technical documentation handed to the consumer with the vehicle, a detailed description of the eCall service (both the free public service and any opted TPS or added value services) should be included. An explanation of the collection and processing of data shall also be included. This information must alsobe available to download online.

Penalties

Member States will be able to set the rules on penalties which should be effective, proportionate and dissuasive. Such penalties shall be in respect of at least the following matters of non-compliance:

  1. making a false declaration during an approval procedure  or a procedure leading to a recall;
  2. falsifying rest results for type- approval;
  3. withholding data or technical specifications which could lead to recall, refusal or withdrawal of type- approval;
  4. breaching data protection and/or privacy rules; and
  5. acting in breach of the obligation to give independent operators access to the 112-based eCall system for a reasonable fee.

Network Specific Issues

Infrastructure for handling eCalls is due to be in place by no later than 1 October 2017 (with Member States reporting to the Commission on progress by no later than 24 December 2015).

Mobile Network Operators are already obliged to ensure their systems can recognise emergency eCalls (the deadline for this having been 31 December 2014). If not already done, the Commission will be able to take direct action to ensure this is completed by 31 March 2016.

Importantly, the eCall system shall be based on an interoperable, standardised, secure and open-access platform to allow for future in-vehicle applications or services to be added on across the Union – access to the system being for a reasonable fee. This will ultimately provide a Union wide network for further connected vehicle technologies (and the inclusion of a penalty for failure to allow independent operators to access the 112-based eCall system highlights the   importance the Commission places  on this). 

Is it now all set in stone?

The Commission is still considering options for promoting and ensuring an interoperable, standardised, secure and open-access eCall platform –   with a deadline of 9 June 2017 for any legislative requirements in order to meet this. It will also be working with stakeholders and experts on common technical requirements and tests for EC approval of vehicles, systems, components and separate technical units, and of detailed technical rules and test procedures for the  application of rules on personal data processing and prohibited data exchange, tracing and trackability assessments, user information templates and manufacturer provided information  documents.

The Commission will consider expanding mandatory eCall systems to other vehicles before 2021 and it is expected that vehicle eCall systems will be included in road worthiness tests.