Calls made to emergency numbers will be treated automatically “in the near future,” according to Astrid, the federal agency which handles the communications. Last year calls to the emergency police number 101 amounted to 2.91 million, while there wee 2.66 million calls to the other emergency numbers 100 and 112. The two exchanges employ a total of 672 operators – 361 for police and 311 for the other services.
Their target? To answer at least 95% of calls within five seconds.
Astrid’s ambition is to create the “exchange of the future” which will use a variety of sensors and other technological means to redirect the relevant information to personnel in the field, without human intervention, the organisation says in its annual report.
The various services in the sector have been consulted, Astrid reports. “In a future phase, their visions will be brought together and various scenarios sketched out,” said Astrid spokesperson Frederik Langhendries in De Tijd. “In the meantime, this year and next, Astrid will renew the technical equipment in its provincial exchanges, with new software, computers, servers, monitors and so on.”
However Astrid stressed that the intention was not to replace human staff with sensors. Human operators have a much broader role than simply to pass information on to emergency services. Their presence on the other end of the line is crucial to calm callers who may be in a difficult situation, as well as to guide them to provide the information needed to handle their emergency. Something sensors are so far unable to do.