Apple and eCall are a win-win

iPhone 14 looks like you've been in a crash

Since the world launch last week of Crash Detection on the new Apple iPhone 14 and Apple watch, Apple has now joined with the Google Platform in offering a similar crash notification capability. VESOS has been often asked “is this the end of eCall then?”

Far from it. Instead, we welcome the innovation from Apple and Google, as it will add many new devices able to report limited alert information to the emergency services and road operators, alerts that include the location of a collision or event. This means the number of reporting vehicles / drivers will increase far faster than eCall alone, which is only installed in new vehicles. A severe collision/ rollover in any age passenger car with a new Apple phone or watch or Google phone will now have its location passed to emergency services, meaning that alert services can help many more vehicles. We have been expecting announcements along these lines for some time and have prepared our TeCall solution to be scalable beyond eCall.

However, there are significant differences between eCall and Apple/Google Crash detection:

  • Unlike the Apple approach, eCall knows the vehicle identity, fuel type, number of passengers, and direction that the vehicle has travelled, along with the vehicle's two previous locations and not just a single location. This data adds great value for the emergency services in planning a response and for road operators in managing incidents
  • eCall has a manual activation, so you can report other people’s collisions and emergencies such as a passenger being taking ill, all with automatic location identification
  • eCall will be automatically activated by airbag deployment, when your vehicle will need recovery, even if the collision was not severe enough to trigger Apple/Google detection parameters
  • eCall is fitted to vans as well as cars and may shortly be fitted to motorbikes, coaches LGVs and agricultural vehicles. Apple’s solution is currently for car type vehicles and pickups.
  • After an alert has been triggered and 999/112 has been dialled, Apple may send a message to your emergency contact (ICE) to share your location and tell them know you are in a collision. It can also share your medical information. eCall data only goes to the emergency services who can immediately mobilise the correct resources and then notify family in an established procedure.

We see a blend of eCall and Apple/Google devices as increasing information for emergency services and road operators, and hence an increasing role for VESOS knowledge and the TeCall platform in:

  • Identifying which road network the data applies to, so the correct road operators and emergency services can respond
  • Removing false alarms and dealing with duplicate eCall and Apple/Google data (both together give a rich dataset on a serious collision needing immediate action)
  • Educating the public in eCall and Apple/Google solutions, to avoid confusion and to know what to do if they receive a message from someone who is an emergency contact
  • Maximising the value of data from vehicles

Danny Woolard of VESOS said: “I am convinced this is a major contribution to road safety, but as the volume of data will increase very rapidly road operators and 999/112 services need to learn the lessons we have captured from eCall since its introduction in 2018”

Andy Graham added “I have worked on the world’s oldest connected cars (a 1900 Daimler), and now simply adding an iPhone to them adds another tool for improving safety. It means a retro fittable solution that anyone buying a new IPhone or watch will get automatically. We just need to use the data correctly.

Alan Gentle commented: "We have been looking at the rise of eCall data since 2018 and will be keeping an eye on just how fast the data volumes grow. It's going to be important to avoid a tsunami of raw data being sent to road operators and instead distil the feed down to the alerts they need – something we particularly designed our TeCall platform to do."


(image: Apple)