Where is eCall?
On May 25th, 1961, John F. Kennedy announced before a special joint session of the Congress the very ambitious goal of sending an American to the Moon – and back to Earth – before the end of the decade. And on July 20th, 1969, sure enough two Americans landed on the Moon.This was by no means a small endeavour. The decision involved much consideration as well as enormous human efforts and expenditures to bring it to reality. In an unrelated story, the eCall initiative in Europe is aimed at equipping vehicles with a system which automatically connects to an emergency centre in case of serious accident or when activated manually by vehicle occupants. The goal is to provide a voice channel and also to notify the emergency centre of the precise location of the vehicle. This will create the conditions for a quicker and better assistance to people involved in car accidents, therefore reducing casualties and related costs. The ecall initiative’s roadmap started back in 2002, with a deeper involvement of Europe’s Member States starting 2004, through the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding. One decade has gone. It is fair to ask: where is eCall? Well, there is still some doubt about the deadline for the full implementation of the pan-European eCall mandate. October 1st 2015 is the new target. But will it hold? Much worse than that, in my opinion, is the fact that a lot of us are asking whether it still makes sense when so many initiatives from the private sector took off in the meantime. Many car manufacturers are pushing ahead with their own programs and no longer waiting for eCall. Even the technical framework on top of which eCall was designed is outdated now. Is this another case of too little, too late, for Europe? Hope not, but for sure Europe really needs to pull its act together and stop dragging its heavy feet. Valério Marques, CEO – Frotcom International