The recent earthquake in Türkiye and Syria reminded everyone how important the disaster and recovery management is. Mobile network was the first part of the critical infrastructure which was involved in the emergency situation. Although it was partially damaged itself, right from the beginning it had to withstand the initial load of calls and further support coordination of AFAD responders, police, gendarmerie, soldiers, volunteers and other personnel. At the same time it had to maintain the regular calls, which were not less important. Mobile communication was helping to reunite families as well as to provide access to important information and news.
The same way everyone should recap first aid procedures time to time, operators should recap the disaster and recovery plans and emergency communication flows. I’m currently working on mobile network deployment in Mexico, where earthquakes are a common place. Therefore we take this very seriously and we know there is no excuse for us if we fail.
Let’s quickly go through the basic requirements on emergency calling in mobile networks.
I used to enjoy the feeling to be for two weeks in the mountings skiing or canoeing down the river and not to know anything about what happens in the world, without a weather forecast and without knowing about my friends and family. That’s what I call relaxation 😉 Mobile phones changed our behavior significantly. We’re always reachable and we never ever really switch off unless there is no signal. When there is no signal we start to feel uneasy – we can’t call and what if anything happens?
Mobile communication changed our way how we act in case of emergency and also its effectiveness. Emergency crews can get on scene much faster, have more information and can update emergency centers with the latest development. It is even possible to provide so called assisted first aid. On the other hand people rely sometimes on mobiles a bit too much.
„ZZS KV, KZOS v Jihlavě (01)“ od Radim Holiš, Wikimedia Commons. Licensed by CC BY-SA 3.0 cz via Wikimedia Commons
To support emergency calling is one of the basic requirements for VoLTE. When we need to reach a Public Safety Answering/Access Point (PSAP) or Emergency Control/Communication Centre (ECC), the common VoIP is not enough. That’s why we have some new elements in the IMS network. The relevant standards are RFC 5031, 3GPP TS 24.229 and TS 23.167.