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The European Emergency Number Association, founded in 1999, an organization of emergency services representatives and others, has campaigned for an efficient 112 service all over Europe on behalf of European citizens. EENA continues to promote awareness of 112 as a core element of its mission.
This choice of number has been cited in logical terms as offering the following advantages:
Different digits: with the numeric keypads widely used today, using at least two different digits instead of the same digit repeatedly significantly reduces the risk of accidental calls. Young children, vibrations, defective keys and collisions with other objects are much more likely to press the same key repeatedly than a particular sequence of different keys, particularly with a button-operated keypad. Accidental calls to emergency centres from mobile phones, which can dial emergency numbers even with locked keypad, are a particular problem with same-digit numbers, such as the UK's 999.
Low digits: on rotary dial telephones, using only those digits that require the least dial rotation (1 and 2) permits a dial lock in hole 3 to effectively disable unauthorised access to the telephone network without preventing access to the emergency number 112. The same choice also maximises dialling speed. Additionally, with telephone systems using pulse dialling, briefly activating the hook once has the same effect as dialling "1", so repeatedly pushing the hook might result in calling 1-1-1. For this reason, Germany's police emergency number was changed from 111 to 110. With numeric keypads, pressing only the first and second button on the keypad is marginally easier in a difficult situation than other keys.
After adoption in continental Western Europe, other countries began to use the 112 number for emergencies. Nations that have adopted it (including as a redirect alongside a pre-existing other emergency number) include:
Egypt (alongside 122 for Police, 123 for Ambulance and 180 for Fire)
Bulgaria (only in Bulgarian, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Greek, Romanian, Turkish, or Russian)(alongside 150 for Ambulance, 160 for Fire and 166 for Police automatically redirected to 112)
Croatia (alongside 192 for Police, 193 for Fire, 194 for Ambulance and 195 for Maritime search and rescue)
Czech Republic (only in Czech, English, German, Polish, Russian and French (not by themselves, but by aid of translation software)) (alongside 155 for Ambulance, 158 for Police and 150 for Fire)
Denmark (in Danish, English, Swedish and Norwegian (in some cases in German)) (including Greenland in Kalaallisut/Greenlandic, Danish and English, Faroe Islands in Faroese, Danish and English). Alongside 114 for non-emergency police.
Italy (about half of Italy has 112 for Carabinieri, 113 for National Police, 115 for Fire, 118 for Ambulance, 1530 coast guard, 1515 State Forestry Corps, 117 Finance Guard and 1544 penitentiary police; several provinces now use 112 for all emergencies)
Kosovo (alongside 192 for Police, 193 for Fire and 194 for Ambulance)
Latvia (alongside 110 for Police, 113 for Ambulance and 114 for Emergency gas service)
Liechtenstein (Police only; alongside 117 for Police, 144 for Ambulance and 118 for Fire)
Lithuania (alongside 011 for Fire, 022 for Police and 033 for Ambulance)
North Macedonia (alongside 192 for Police, 193 for Fire, 194 for Ambulance)
Norway (112 for Police only, 110 for Fire and 113 for Ambulance. Calls to any of the emergency numbers will be redirected to appropriate service when needed. 02800 is the non-emergency number for any local police department)
Poland (its used alongside 999 for Ambulance, 998 for Fire, and used to be available alongside 997 for Police; both options are available; 112 is used for all emergencies)
In many countries, emergency numbers previously used also continue to be available; e.g. 061 and 112 in Spain, 999 and 112 both function in Ireland and the UK. In the United States, only some carriers, including AT&T will map the number 112 to its emergency number 9-1-1.
The International Telecommunications Union recommends that member states selecting a primary or secondary emergency number choose either 911, 112 or both.
112 is one of two numbers (the other being the region's own emergency number) that can be dialed on most GSM phones even if the phone is locked.
Adopted in July 1991, the Council Decision 91/396/EC introduced '112' as the European emergency number. The Open Network Provision Directive in 1998, the Universal Service Directives in 2002 and 2009 and finally the European Electronic Communications Code in 2018 further specified how 112 should work in the European Union.
By the European Electronic Communications Code, everyone in the European Union should be able to contact the emergency services by using the European emergency number '112' free of charge wherever they are in the European Union. Member States are also required to make sure that access to the emergency services for people with disabilities is equivalent to that enjoyed by other end-users.
E112 is a location-enhanced version of 112.
This obligation was strengthened with the European Electronic Communications Code in 2018 which requires the location to include both network-based and handset-derived location information. It is now possible for emergency services to retrieve accurate location information of the caller with the Advanced Mobile Location technology.
The eCall feature for automated emergency calls on crash, mandatory on European cars since April 2018, is based on E112.
Reverse 1-1-2 is a public safety communications technology used by public safety organizations throughout the world to communicate with groups of people in a defined geographic area. Reverse 112 allows authorities to rapidly warn those in danger, directly through their mobile phones.
Article 110 of the European Electronic Communications Code makes it mandatory for all Member States of the European Union to deploy by June 2022 a system that enables public authorities to warn immediately all the people present in a determined area of an ongoing or developing threat directly on their mobile phones. This objective can be achieved with either the Cell Broadcast or the Location-based SMS technology.
European 112 Day
The European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission signed a tripartite convention in 2009 in order to introduce an annual European 112 Day. It is supposed to raise awareness for the Europe-wide availability and the advantages of the European emergency call 112. They chose 11 February since the date includes the telephone number (11/2).
A wide variety of events take place around Europe every year to celebrate European 112 Day.
Expert Groups on 112
Getting 112 to work across the EU is a complex task. It requires in particular coordination between civil protection administrations (the emergency authorities who handle the call) and electronic communications administrations (who have to make sure that a 112 call reaches the emergency operator). That is why the Commission decided to act at European level and set up the Expert Group on Emergency Access (EGEA) at the end of 2005. The group met for the last time in May 2013.
In 2020, the European Commission set up the Expert Group on Emergency Communications (EG112) with the task to assist the European Commission in the preparation of new legislations on the matter and exchange views on how emergency communications are handled within the European Union.