A vision for safe mobility

iCar SupportERTICO - ITS Europe takes a look at the eSafety Forum and its work promoting ICT for safe, smart and clean road mobility with zero accidents and zero delays for informed citizens

Safe, clean and efficient mobility is a concern for all citizens and transport actors. In 2008, more than 1.2 million accidents on Europe’s roads caused around 39,000 deaths and more than 1.7 million injuries. One way to improve the performance of the transport sector in these areas is the use of Information Technology.

Efforts have been ongoing for a number of years on a European level to develop, support and deploy European-wide Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) and Services.
Established in early 2003 by the European Commission in close cooperation with the industry, industrial associations and public sector stakeholders, the eSafety Forum is a joint platform involving all road safety stakeholders.

The eSafety Forum supports the development, deployment and use of the eSafety systems, its work being supported by the eSafety Forum secretariat, iCar Support, which is a three year EC support action under 7th Framework Programme. The iCar Support follows the implementation of actions and recommendations resulting from the work of the eSafety Forum and the Intelligent Car Initiative and gives daily support to the eSafety Forum activities.

Safety platform

The focus of the eSafety Forum – a platform which worked at its origins only towards safe mobility – responded to the challenges of the political environment and took up further priorities, now supporting and promoting ICT for safe, smart and clean road mobility. The Forum vision is to achieve safe, smart and clean mobility with zero accidents, zero delays, no negative impact on the environment, as well as connected and informed citizens, where products and services are affordable and seamless, privacy is respected and security is provided.

To work towards this vision, the Forum provides a platform for all ITS stakeholders in Europe to discuss, define, coordinate and support activities to further innovation, research, development, deployment and use of ICT based transport systems and services. Working Groups and Task Forces are created as soon as new working challenges are identified, while the strategic focus falls on roadmaps, the overall development/ deployment processes and on covering requirements for all stakeholders along the whole value chain.

As working issues, the actual focus of the eSafety Forum in the following period falls on the availability of accurate road and traffic data, the technical, financial, organisational and legal framework (standardisation, certification, liability, privacy, security, HMI) for cooperative systems, and for assisted/partly automated driving, ITS related personalised mobility services and all other ITS tools and methods for safe smart and clean mobility (including eco driving, traffic management etc).
eCall support and visibility.

The eCall system
One well known major European-wide initiative is eCall (in-vehicle emergency call). The use of eCall to deploy emergency assistance will save lives and reduce the social burden of road accidents by improving the notification of such accidents, speeding up the emergency service response and lowering the subsequent effects on fatalities, severity of injuries and traffic flows.

eCall is an emergency call either generated manually by vehicle occupants or automatically via activation of in-vehicle sensors when an accident occurs. When activated, the in-vehicle eCall system establishes a 112 (Europe-wide emergency number) voice connection directly with the relevant Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). At the same time, key information about the accident such as time, location and vehicle description is sent to the PSAP operator receiving the voice call.  

eCall illustrates the challenges and difficulties in achieving European-wide safety systems implementation. For the system to be useful it should be available throughout the European Union and other European countries, but this brings its own problems of cost/benefit, legislation and liability – not to mention the time necessary to develop commonly agreed European Standards.

According to the eCall Impact Assessment Study, finalised in June 2009, there will be benefits varying from 1 per cent to 8 per cent in terms of lives saved, depending on the Member State and areas.

The eCall public consultation, considering the cost-benefit analysis and socio-economic costs of eCall, was conducted in August/September 2010 and brought very positive results for eCall. 308 individuals, 128 organisations and 14 public authorities participated in the study. 79,3 per cent answered that they are aware of eCall, 90 per cent found eCall useful, 85 per cent would like to have their vehicles equipped with eCall system and 68 per cent consider that eCall should not be optional, but mandatory in all the vehicles.

67 per cent of the participants confirmed that they would be willing to pay up to €150 for eCall to be installed in their cars, while 31 per cent would be willing to pay up to €300. Moreover, 75 per cent of the participants in the study responded that if the price of all new vehicles goes up by €200 because it includes the eCall system, this would not affect their choice when buying a new vehicle.

In this context, the eSafety Forum contributes to the implementation process of the Pan-European eCall system, by supporting the European eCall Implementation Platform (EeIP). The Platform is co-chaired by ERTICO ITS Europe and one EU Member State (changing every year) – this year’s MS chair is the Czech Republic.

Task force activities
The Platform meets twice per year and its activities are organised around a number of Task Forces that cover major issues related to the implementation of the service around Europe.

eCall was identified as a “priority action” in the ITS Directive, approved in July 2010 by the European Parliament, and could be the object of a mandatory implementation across Europe. Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: “This Directive is an important instrument for the coordinated implementation of ITS in Europe. We will make a huge step towards the deployment and use of interoperable and seamless ITS services while leaving Member States the freedom to decide which systems to invest in. Today’s approval will foster a more efficient, safer and more sustainable, integrated and competitive mobility in Europe.”

eSafety Observers Network
Another eSafety Forum focus is represented by the eSafety Observers Network activities, a panel of representatives selected from the EU Member States and ITS National Associations who report to the EC about their national eSafety activities.         

The Observers are actively involved in national industry, policy, or R&D activities and are acknowledged experts in their domain or sector. The liaison and coordination between the eSafety Observers community and National ITS Associations is meant to ensure better synchronisation between the Intelligent Car and eSafety Forum priorities at European and national levels, to support the work of the national eSafety initiatives within Member States and to support EU eSafety initiatives.

The first meeting of the eSafety Observers Network took place in Timisoara, Romania in October, when the Observers agreed on Terms of References, which will guide their work in the following years of activity.

eSafety Awards
The eSafety Forum organises the annual eSafety Awards – Rewarding excellence in deployment of eSafety systems – to highlight the successes of the most outstanding, ambitious and innovative eSafety deployments and to reward those people and organisations most worthy of recognition and praise.

This year’s ceremony took place in the context of the eSafety Forum Plenary meeting, in October and the Awards were handed out by the deputy director general of the Directorate General of Information Society and Media, Mr Zoran Stančič.

2010 winners are:
• Industry/Technology Award – Theo Kamalski, Tom Tom
• Policy Award – Harri Pursiainen, Finish Ministry of Transport and Communication
• Lifetime achievement Award – Wolfgang Reinhardt, ACEA

The eSafety Forum Plenary meetings take place a minimum of once a year in
Brussels and gather up to 100 Forum members. This year’s meeting agenda covered in the first day reporting of the eSafety Forum Activities Working Groups and Task Forces activities and three main thematic sessions the second day (research and innovation, deployment and the future challenges for eSafety Forum in the currently changing political environment). The new list of eSafety Recommendations was also presented for approval to the eSafety Forum members during the event.  

All the eSafety Forum activities are regularly monitored, supported and disseminated by the iCar Support. Coordinated by ERTICO – ITS Europe and counting with the participation of European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), Q-Free, DEKRA, YGOMI and VTT, iCar Support is a three year European Support Action funded under the Seventh Framework Programme.

For more information:
To keep up to date with the latest development in European “smart” (safe, clean and efficient) road safety technology, policies and legislation, visit the project’s website at www.icarsupport.eu

To know more about the activities of the EeIP platform you can visit www.icarsupport.eu/ecall/european-ecall-implementation-platform-eeip

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