AML, the automatic geolocation service for emergency calls, is still unknown or not used at all in some European countries. Its application could save many lives. But how does AML work?
Advanced Mobile Location or AML is the geolocation service that works in conjunction with the emergency number and is integrated into nearly 90% of smartphones (IOS and Android) sold in Europe. A French hiker had used his mobile phone to call for help via an emergency call and should have been geolocated. Unfortunately, this was not the case. The saddest thing for the hiker was to be told during the telephone exchange – made public – with the Italian rescue services that they could not locate him precisely. It is despite the data collected from telephone operators using relay antennas. But these proved too imprecise: the search area was too large – about twenty kilometers. One can imagine the despair and ordeal experienced by the hiker.
What is Advanced Mobile Location?
The Brussels-based NGO European Emergency Number Association (EENA) is advocating with European countries for the adoption of this technology. It automatically geolocates a person who has contacted a specific emergency number in each state. The NGO also works with Waze and DJI.
According to EENA, 70% of emergency calls in Europe are made from mobile phones. Generally, depending on the number of base stations and the operator’s capacity, the caller’s geolocation varies from 2 km in urban areas to 30 km in rural or mountainous regions.
When a person calls a valid emergency number throughout the European Union created in 1991 by the European Community, or a number specific to the country in which he or she is located, he or she is connected to an operator whose first question is: “Where are you located? But in most cases, the caller is in such a state of stress that he or she is sometimes unable to say precisely where he or she stands. For example, in the United Kingdom, there are nearly 143,000 cases of people who are unable to speak each year. Another prominent figure is that about 36,000 incidents per year involve searches lasting more than 30 minutes because the caller is unable to give his or her position.
Based on this observation, the United Kingdom emergency services, in collaboration with four British telephone operators and mobile manufacturers Sony and HTC, developed Advanced Mobile Location or AML from 2014, whereas since 2012 European legislation had required 112 calls to be geolocated.
How does AML work?
It is not necessary to download a dedicated application. Indeed, nearly 90% of smartphones (iOS and Android) in circulation have natively integrated this technology: 2016 for Google (from the Gingerbread version) and 2018 for iOS (v.11.3).
When calling 112, an SMS or HTTP POST request containing data is sent simultaneously to dedicated emergency services. When we look at the SMS, it is a long list of numbers and letters that allows us to give geolocation with an accuracy of around 100 m or even 30 m in some cases. AML technology is based on the mobile’s GPS chip, but also Wi-Fi and relay antennas.