The REACH112 Newsletter - Issue 2
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Special thanks to the European Union of the Deaf for the creation of this introductory video in International Sign!
Table of Contents:
- What is REACH112?
- What is the status of the project?
- How is the project implemented in the 5 countries?
- Specification of the functioning Total Conversation platform
- REACH112 explained to emergency services
- Standardisation activities for REACH112
- Next steps
- Contact details
What is REACH112?
REACH112 (REsponding to All Citizens needing Help) is a three-year project partially funded by the European Commission under the ICT PSP programme (2009-2012). It gathers 20 partners from all over Europe, including user organisations and major global telecommunications companies. In five countries, it deploys a new communication solution to allow people to communicate in video, voice and text simultaneously, with special focus on people with disabilities. The project offers access to relay services to help connecting users with different abilities to others and provides access to the emergency services. Ultimately, the service will benefit all citizens.
What is the status of the project?
The REACH112 project team is delighted to announce that the REACH112 service is up and running. User requirements had first been defined and then used as a basis to consolidate the technology and the operational deployments at end-users, relay services and Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs). More than 7000 users can now contact each other directly or via relay services when necessary using Total conversation on a wide range of devices (also transnationally). The first real emergency calls have been made. PSAP and relay services operators have been trained. We are currently monitoring how the pilots are running and providing the necessary improvements when needed. We are also preparing the final REACH112 Workshop that will be organised in June 2012.
How is the project implemented in the 5 countries?
In Sweden, Omnitor's Total Conversation client is used in PC's, Total Conversation phones and Android smartphones. Nokia E71 phones have also been provided with Real-Time Text applications and are used in the Swedish pilots. A sign language relay has been setup specifically for REACH112 providing 24/7 service. Omnitor's Total Conversation client is also installed in one SOS Alarm PSAP in Orebro. The installation consists of a fifth screen next to the regular 112 call-taking platform. The emergency service access is achieved by connecting Total Conversation calls in a 3-party conference with the caller. Video and RTT calls can be placed and the PSAP and relay service automatically connect to the call. The voice connection during the REACH112 emergency call goes through the regular 112 system and the conversation is recorded. All the media (video, text) during the emergency call are recorded and can be played back for training or legal purposes. Orebro's PSAP is a stage 1 PSAP and is connected to all the other 17 stage 1 PSAPs in Sweden. Thus the whole country can potentially use the REACH112 service for emergency calling. Nokia has provided a standards-based provision of accurate location information in Nokia E71 (using GPS based on IETF standards) and the pilot partners are currently looking into making this information displayed in the PSAP, considering the firewall issues with current legacy systems. Since 26 May 2011, 18 "real" emergency calls have been made in Sweden.
In the Netherlands, there are around 2300 citizens who use Real-Time Text from AnnieS. Approximately 1100 of them are mobile user on a Blackberry device. They use RTT to call peer to peer, to call with hearing people via the text-relay centre and to reach 112 directly. The relay service is not involved in the project. At the 112 emergency call centre ninety 112 call takers have been trained regarding the specifics about communications with deaf and hard of hearing. To handle incoming RTT calls, the RTT software is installed in the national "Stage 1" 112 call Centre that is managed by The Royal National Police Force (KLPD) in Driebergen. The handling of 112 Text Calls is integrated in the standard work station of the call taker, although running on a separate PC. The incoming 112 text calls contain the home address, location information and caller identification. Combined with the pre-recorded text assigned to the specific response buttons it is possible to quickly instruct the emergency services. In the Netherlands 60 (deaf) RTT users volunteered to make weekly 112-calls to test and improve procedures and to help the 112 call-takers getting used to Real Time Text.
In Spain end-users have been provided with Real-Time Text clients on PC's, Nokia E71. Omnitor's Total Conversation phones are also available. Sertel provides the relay service for person to person calls. SIS Real-Time Text software is installed in all the workstations in Galicia's Stage 1 PSAP. The standard 112 CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) system and RTT client run in same workstations to ensure equivalent access for deaf and hard of hearing citizens. There are 77 PSAP call-takers who have been trained and 10-12 work stations are permanently available to handle REACH112 calls. A support infrastructure is fully available as well. The RTT conversation between the caller and the PSAP operator is recorded and can be matched with the data entry from the 112 call-taker in the CAD system.
A new Total Conversation telecommunications infrastructure has been set up by Aupix. Users are able to download a free client (myFriend) for PC, laptops and netbook and also for Android smartphones (myFriend Mobile). The registration process is carried out through the web site www.myfriendcentral.com. A Total Conversation Relay Service (sign language, speech, text) is available in Scotland and in Bristol and there is a direct interface to Real-Time Text relay service provided by BT. That is, 112 Total Conversation calls are routed either to Bristol relay (if 112 qualified relay operator is available) or to BT TextRelay for Real-Time Text connection. MyFriend users can also make calls in text to legacy PSTN textphones. If the caller is based in Bristol, 112 calls are routed directly to the PSAPs (Fire and Police). The PSAP operators can speak, provide text, sign or invoke relay interpreters when needed. Avon Fire and Rescue Services and Avon and Somerset Police have standalone workstations installed alongside existing voice services. All the media (voice, video and text) is recorded. Sixteen staff have been trained on Total Conversation terminals in the emergency centres.
The Total conversation service is provided to users on a hardware videophone and through a web based service on PC and Mac for registered users. A public web site is also provided for unregistered callers with an "accessible for all" design. An effort to adapt it to deaf-blind people is being done. The technical platform is provided by France Telecom and IVèS, the relay service is managed by Websourd and the PSAP is located in Grenoble (CHU). Total Conversation is available for person to person calls and relayed calls.
The newly created stage 1 PSAP for deaf citizens called "CNR" that covers the whole French territory access was officially launched mid-September 2011 (with fax and SMS). The "CNR" is also responsible handling REACH 112 calls. The caller is in direct contact with a trained PSAP agent without relay service in between in sign language or written French through real time text.
Two workstations have been installed at the PSAP (one for sign calls, one for text calls) and a third "level 2" agent uses a shared screen to call and coordinate with level 2 PSAPs. For non-emergency calls, the deaf agent can also call a doctor for advice through the relay service.
6 deaf and speaking operators have been trained to Total Conversation and 12 have been trained to specific deaf text. The training is provided by the University of Aix-Marseille and will continue and be improved through 2012 based on pilot feedbacks.
To ease future data exchange with other PSAP, the CAP protocol has been implemented.
Specification of the Functioning Total Conversation Platform
REACH112 has prepared a specification of how the REACH112 infrastructure and its services are set up. This will provide a guide to other agencies who wish to create their own service. This is a technical document which reflects the experiences of partners in REACH112.
A further update of this document will also be released next December.
REACH112 Explained to Emergency Services
Emergency services and authorities are mandated by the Universal Service Directive to ensure an equivalent access to 112 for people with disabilities. Many solutions are available and the selection of an accessibility solution requires to be informed about the pros and cons of each and every one of them. The document presents the advantages and disadvantages of each solutions and provides information on the ways to deploy Total Conversation for 112 accessibility
Standardisation activities for REACH112
Several international and European standards are already in place for Total Conversation, relay services and IP-access to emergency services. In ETSI-EMTEL, the REACH112 project team has proposed a Technical Standard on Total Conversation Access to Emergency Services (ETSI TS 103 170) which is currently in progress.
On 12 September 2011, the IETF-ECRIT draft standard "Best Current Practice for Communications Services in support of Emegency Calling" was approved in IETF, specifying procedures for IP access to emergency services. This standard is now an important base for harmonisation of accessible communication with 112 for people with disabilities as well as all. It is in compliance with the REACH112 services. NENA has approved its NENA i3 technical specification for NG9-1-1 access in USA. It is also in line with the standards used in REACH112.
REACH112 has provided input to the standardisation of IMS Emergency Service Access in 3GPP, in the NOVES activity, resulting in use case descriptions in 3GPP TR 22.871 describing important ways to call emergency services for persons with more or other media than audio.
• Work on improving the service provided in each pilot
• Collect evidence to show the value to end users and to illustrate how barriers are being broken down.
• Define a business and exploitation plan to help other countries deploy the service
• Inform a large range of stakeholders
• Prepare the final workshop that will be organised in June 2012 (a special newsletter will be sent when all the practical details are confirmed)
Possible inaccuracies of information are under the responsibility of the project team. The text reflects solely the views of its authors. The European Commission is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.
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