To improve emergency services and to better locate callers, The European Commission has approved a regulation that will require new smartphones to include satellite and Wi-Fi location. The integrated chipset with Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) must deliver access to the EU’s satellite system Galileo, which provides accurate positioning and timing information.
Currently, most emergency services are faced with the challenge of only being able to locate troubled mobile callers within an area of several kilometers. However, the proposed use of satellite and Wi-Fi systems will enable 112 emergency number callers to be located within a range of less than 100 meters.
Galileo-enabled devices receive signals for positioning, navigation and timing. This satellite system has been servicing around 400 million users, and this summer the system was supplemented by four more satellites, which were successfully launched from the European spaceport. Every additional satellite steadily improves Galileo’s performance, and, with its anticipated full operational capability in 2020, Galileo will be the most precise satellite navigation system in the world, boasting a precision of 20cm.
Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Elzbieta Bienkowska said, “I am happy that EU Member States and industry see the advantages of a caller location solution in emergency situations that uses satellite navigation such as the European Satellite positioning system: Galileo. Galileo is up and running and last year alone more than 75 million Galileo-enabled smartphones were sold. These new users join the ranks of the Galileo user community benefitting thanks to Galileo from better accuracy, higher precision location information, including in emergency situations.”
The European Commission hopes that the new standard will not significantly inconvenience manufacturers, since most new phones already include a GNSS chip and Wi-Fi. Mobile phones with Galileo-enabled services have been available from major manufacturers since 2016, and currently eight EU countries are already using the system for their emergency services.