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ITU To Choose Emergency Line For Mobiles: 911, or 112? 354

Posted by timothy
from the what-and-invalidate-a-generation-of-rap-lyrics? dept.
First time accepted submitter maijc writes "The International Telecommunication Union will determine the standard emergency phone numbers for new generations of mobile phones and other devices. AP reports that member states have agreed that either 911 or 112 should be designated as emergency phone numbers. 911 is currently used in North America, while 112 is standard across the EU and in many other countries worldwide."
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ITU To Choose Emergency Line For Mobiles: 911, or 112?

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  • Why not both? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crazyjj (2598719) * on Thursday December 13, 2012 @09:28AM (#42272383)

    I imagine it would be technically trivial to simply require that *both* numbers link to emergency services. It would be easy to do, and would make things a lot safer for visitors in either America or Europe who may only be familiar with one or the other.

    Easy peasy, and no argument needed.

    Of course, this is the U.N. we're talking about here, so OF COURSE there will be an argument. And it will no doubt break down fairly quickly into an old-resentment pissing contest between Europe and America, with both sides engaging in increasingly hyperbolic rhetoric and the end result being both sides telling the other to sod off. It will probably be considered a success if four additional numbers don't get proposed by countries who hate the West in general.
     

    • This.

      Although from what I've learned from BBC television shows, the British use 999, so I doubt 911 & 112 is an exhaustive list. Still, why not have a dozen emergency phone numbers?
      • Re:Why not both? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 13, 2012 @09:39AM (#42272591)

        The UK added 112 as an alternative many years ago, so while 999 is the popularly ingrained emergency number there would be no problem in the UK with a phone having 112 as the default emergency number.

    • by MrDoh! (71235)
      yeah, both would seem to be sensible. Those numbers aren't used for anything else are they? So why not make them both activate the emergency services.
    • I imagine it would be technically trivial to simply require that *both* numbers link to emergency services. It would be easy to do, and would make things a lot safer for visitors in either America or Europe who may only be familiar with one or the other.

      ^ This.

      End of discussion.

    • by ggeens (53767)

      I imagine it would be technically trivial to simply require that *both* numbers link to emergency services. It would be easy to do, and would make things a lot safer for visitors in either America or Europe who may only be familiar with one or the other.

      AFAIK, phone switches already do that. I'm pretty sure I can dial 100 (emergency number for landlines over here) on my cell phone and ask to send an ambulance over. I think the old emergency number (900 - removed about 20 years ago) still works.

      I wouldn't surprise me if 911 also works.

      (Not tested - I prefer not to pay a fine for abusing those numbers.)

    • the twelfth of January!

      • by lengau (817416)
        Since 112 takes place in Europe, we should be remembering the 11th of February. As a South African, I do so with pride (11-2-1990: The day Nelson Mandela was released from prison).
        • by psmears (629712)

          Since 112 takes place in Europe, we should be remembering the 11th of February.

          Indeed. Or the first of December :-)

    • Re:Why not both? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wvmarle (1070040) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @09:48AM (#42272721)

      My phone is doing just that already. When I key in either '112' or '911' it displays 'emergency call' (just tried; of course without making the actual call). Interestingly '999' (the actual emergency call number here) is not recognised. Probably because I'm using a UK-origin Android version on my phone.

      Actually I wonder: why is there a number for emergency calls from mobiles? Why can't the mobile phone just tell the network "this is an emergency call, please put me through to the local emergency call centre". Then the phone can link one or more numbers to that. It is already so that if there is no SIM in the phone or you're out of reach of your network, as long as there is any network available you can use it for emergency calls.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by vmlemon (1203598)
        In fact, at least with GSM, and UMTS-based handsets, when you dial the local emergency services number, the number itself isn't actually dialled. Instead, a call with a specific "Emergency" flag is made, and the network deals with routing appropriately.
      • by azalin (67640)
        The point is with a mobile phone you sometimes don't know which network you'll be connecting to. It might even be a foreign network if you're near a boarder. This works nicely and in a standard way (it might not be your phone you're using) with a common number (or set of numbers). Otherwise you would need an "Emergency" Icon (which language) or button on the phone, that had to be unremovable, prominent and not to easily buttdialable.
        In my opinion having a one or two emergency numbers to call is the best so
        • by WillerZ (814133)

          It might even be a foreign network if you're near a boarder.

          If you're going to be connected to the emergency services of the wrong country anyway, I would say you have bigger problems than which number to dial.

    • by sribe (304414)

      Of course, this is the U.N. we're talking about here, so OF COURSE there will be an argument.

      Yes, and to any skilled politician the answer is blindingly obvious, compromise on 512, the average--except of course that leaves room to argue that it should be rounded down to 511 instead of up ;-)

      (You think I'm kidding? Why do you think the packet length in ATM is 48 instead of 32 or 64? Yep, the average of two competing proposals over length...)

    • by hduff (570443)

      I imagine it would be technically trivial to simply require that *both* numbers link to emergency services. It would be easy to do, and would make things a lot safer for visitors in either America or Europe who may only be familiar with one or the other.

      Easy peasy, and no argument needed.

      >

      Done in one.

      My God, both a first post and a reasonable response. What is the world coming to?

      But please /.'ers, don't let that stop you from arguing since the world ends in 9 days.

    • I imagine it would be technically trivial to simply require that *both* numbers link to emergency services. It would be easy to do, and would make things a lot safer for visitors in either America or Europe who may only be familiar with one or the other.

      Sensible idea alert. If you actually dared to speak this out during one of those meetings, security would show up before you had finished your sentence, and escort you out of the door. How dare you shortcuts hours of "collegial" small talk about phone numbers by solving the problem with one small but brilliant idea. After all, the purpose of these meetings is to drag on and on and on, while outside the window the seasons go by (all 4 of them...), and to waste as much otherwise productive work time of highly

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      I imagine it would be technically trivial to simply require that *both* numbers link to emergency services.

      In Illinois they're rolling out 211, only not as an emergency number. 211 now links you to non-emergency government services like food stamps, etc.

    • by Chrisje (471362)

      The Wiki for emergency lines per country has 124 hits on 112 in the list of supported emergency numbers, while 911 is only mentioned 54 times.

      Quite a few nations in Africa and the Middle East have their own emergency numbers, but route both 112 and 911 to emergency services already.

      Having said that, it seems that world-wide there is a larger population of people that use 112 than 911, so the obvious choice would be 112.

      But all things being equal and the US being what they are, either 911 will be shoved down

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 13, 2012 @09:32AM (#42272447)

    What about the UK standard 0118-999-881-999-119-7253?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ab8GtuPdrUQ

  • by MrDoh! (71235) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @09:34AM (#42272491) Homepage Journal
    It's trivial to use; 0118 999 881 999 119 725

    3

    why can't we standardise on that?

  • Why not have both?
    • Why not indeed?

      The emergency number in the UK is 999 but all systems are configured to route 112 and 999 to the same place.

  • by sootman (158191) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @09:43AM (#42272645) Homepage Journal

    > 911 is currently used in North America, while 112
    > is standard across the EU and in many other
    > countries worldwide.

    911 then, of course. USA! USA! USA!

  • That way no one would ever forget it.

  • 112 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bogtha (906264) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @09:44AM (#42272663)

    911 is currently used in North America, while 112 is standard across the EU and in many other countries worldwide.

    112 isn't just standard across the EU and many other countries, it's part of the GSM standard. Outside of America getting its own way, there's no good reason to pick anything other than that, it's practically a worldwide standard already.

    • by acidfast7 (551610)
      lol at America. next thing you know, they'll say they invented the "telephone."
    • Re:112 (Score:5, Funny)

      by jeffy210 (214759) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @10:07AM (#42273009)

      So is metric, look how well America uses that :-\

      • by azalin (67640)
        Well officially since 1893 and the Mendenhall order [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_customary_units [wikipedia.org]
      • So is metric, look how well America uses that :-\

        Americans use metric where it's useful, imperial where it's useful. It's entirely possible, some will be surprised to be well-versed in SI and still choose to use base-12 when building a staircase (without using a calculator).

        It's impressive how Europeans who look down upon people who aren't at least bilingual also praise those who rigidly adhere to a single measurement system.

        But, hey, I regularly use four spoken languages, two measurement systems, a couple

  • There's a lot of inertia behind both of these numbers in their respective realms. Since all it takes is one non-informed person to call the wrong number and subsequently die, political pressure against standardizing on one number is going to exist.

    That being said, why not make both numbers point to the same service planet-wide?

  • Do both. Waste 1% of phone number space, which has basically no cost. Problem solved.

  • by nodan (1172027)
    Why isn't that built into GSM rather than depending on a phone number? Just pressing an emergency button should dial the proper number anyway, no?
    • by azalin (67640)
      And what would this button do 99.5% of it's time instead of wasting space and being a butt dial waiting to happen?
  • Wednesday's announcement marks a rare show of consensus at the International Telecommunications Union meeting in Dubai, where delegates remain deeply divided over whether to endorse greater government sway over the Internet.

    Say what now? I'm pretty sure we have consensus here that that's Complete And Utter Bullshit. The only point of dispute there is which government(s) get the greater sway (because they all want authoritarian power over content and delivery for their own reasons); and the only dispute

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @10:01AM (#42272925)
    and go for 9112
  • Why not 666?

    The Mark of the Beast is easy to remember.

    Yes, I _am_ an agent of Satan, but the duties are mostly ceremonial.

  • IT has been managing these issues for decades. This is not new, and neither is the concept of a phone being used by someone in another country and the potential confusion in emergency calls.

    Landlines aren't portable, like cellphones, but their users are. Someone from Germany, for instance, in New York on business, may well have to make an emergency call - how did they ever figure it out in the old days?

    And my phone (my last 2 actually) doesn't have a useful speed dial to 911. I have to unlock it, find the

  • by kybred (795293) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @10:19AM (#42273237)
    Per the 3GPP specs for GSM, the SIM has an item for Emergency Call Codes (EFecc) that can contain up to 5 call codes, each up to 3 digits. If any of these codes is dialed the phone will put the call through as an emergency call. This is to allow for localization of the emergency numbers. Since in a mobile, you enter the entire number to be called then hit SEND (or the equivalent), the switch doesn't have to decide how to route your call as you are dialing it, like is done for landlines.

    I think the mobile phones are the easy part, the hard part will be the 'other devices' which presumably will include landlines.

  • A universal number that everyone must use .... its got to be 666
  • Generally you want the emergency number to be difficult to dial by accident. In the past, some national telecoms agencies made sure that no other numbers had the same first digit as the emergency number. This is being eroded now; in .nl, some idiot provider decided to make voicemail reachable via 1233 when emergency is 112.

  • by blindbat (189141)
    We should make it 555 and make all the TV shows and movies into a joke when the give out numbers.
  • it seems to me the 911 would be harder to accidentally dial.

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