State Secretary Raed Arafat announces measures to restructure 112 emergency hotline service
The 112 emergency call system, managed by the Special Telecommunications Service, is not perfect, but nor can it be said to be under-performing. Thousands of calls are received on a daily basis, and a vast majority of them are handled appropriately. This somewhat conflicting statement was made by the State Secretary with the Interior Ministry, Raed Arafat, entrusted over a week ago by PM Viorica Dăncilă to coordinate an inter-institutional committee designed to find immediate solutions to improve the crisis response times across public institutions.
Such a crisis was reported on July 25 in Caracal, southern Romania, where a 15-year old girl, abducted and raped, called 3 times the 112 emergency number to ask for help. The police took 19 hours to identify the suspect’s house and to get in, much to the dismay of the public. Stating that she would not allow anyone to toy with people’s lives and safety, PM Dăncilă requested immediate measures.
Working on the assumption that “no system is infallible”, State Secretary Raed Arafat announced 14 measures to improve the 112 service. In a press conference at the Government headquarters on Wednesday night, he said 10 of these measures will be implemented within a year, and 4 are medium and long-term, their implementation scheduled to take between 12 and 60 months. In the short run, the Romanian official said, the legislation must be improved to the effect of speeding up emergency call tracking, and in this respect a bill has been suggested, which also covers, among other things, prepaid mobile cards.
Raed Arafat: “An analysis has been made, regarding the first 6 months of the year. Of the 47.7% non-urgent calls, 52.86% were abusive, and 81% of the abusive calls were made using prepaid cards. The emergency bill will be applicable for prepaid cards strictly in the context of calling 112. This will be an instance where the mobile telecom provider discloses data concerning the owner of the prepaid card.”
Other measures to be adopted in the short run include a cooperation protocol with Google, the testing and subsequent implementation of an Advanced Mobile Location system, infrastructure reconfiguration by mobile telecoms operators and promoting the 112 Call app developed by the Special Telecommunications Service, as a temporary measure until the AML system is operational.
In the medium and long term, the goals include the training of 112 system specialists and increasing the number of training centres for such experts across the country.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)