Beginning in April 2018, all new cars in the European Union (EU) must be equipped with eCall technology.

In the event of a serious accident, eCall system automatically communicates the vehicle’s exact location to emergency services, the time of incident and the direction of travel (most important on motorways), even if the driver is unconscious or unable to make a phone call. An eCall can also be triggered manually by pushing a button in the car, for example, by a witness of a serious accident.

When activated, the in-vehicle eCall system establishes a voice connection directly with the relevant national or local governmental Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP).

The eCall device fitted into the car automatically sends a ‘Minimum Set of Data’ (MSD) to the PSAP in the event of an emergency. The MSD will include the exact location of the crash site, the triggering mode (automatic or manual), the vehicle identification number and current and previous positions.

The eCall system is governed by EU regulations. The European Commission has also published various detailed administrative and technical requirements that eCall technology and systems must comply with.

The legislation leaves room for third party services supported eCall systems (TPS) to co-exist with the mandatory public eCall system. This creates extensive opportunities for third party service providers in the private sector to provide not only the eCall emergency services but also a plethora of private value added technology-based services.

The introduction of eCall systems raise obvious concerns about privacy and data protection, in particular misuse of data, surveillance, constant tracking, etc. To deal with such concerns, in addition to complying with general data protection laws, including the principle of privacy by design, EU’s eCall regulations require manufacturers and service providers to comply with detailed and prescriptive technical rules and test procedures on personal data processing, including implementation of appropriate safeguards.