Pushing network and systems technology to their limits, BT Ireland’s Emergency Call Answering Service takes availability and responsiveness to new heights
When the department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resource went to find a communications services company provider to run Ireland’s Emergency Call Answering Service (ECAS) in 2016, a two year process began that resulted in BT Ireland winning a contract they have held since 2010 for a further five years. Providing the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), BT operators direct 112/999 calls to the appropriate emergency service – An Garda Siochána, Fire Service, Ambulance Service, or Coast Guard.
Although we had been running ECAS in Ireland, the department raised the bar on what was needed. Improving on our current service was the biggest challenge to achieve the resilience needed, with pressure on the successful bidder to build out a service with 24/7, 365 days a year availability and almost zero downtime. With around 6,000 calls a day, and 2.37 million calls a year, the challenge was having the latest technology for identifying the location of the caller in need of help. Combining the most efficient systems for directing calls to the appropriate emergency service.
We committed to a multi-million euro investment as part of an all-encompassing service covering technology, buildings, a dedicated team of over 80 backroom staff and highly trained call takers who would be directly employed by BT.
Northern Europe is recognised as having the most sophisticated ECAS systems in the world and Ireland’s is among the very best. The BT service was already answering all emergency calls in less than 1.3 seconds, a time we have now cut to an average of 0.7 seconds with the new service, a fractional gain that could be significant when it comes to saving lives. We also added our own KPIs to the Government’s list, setting targets for our service that our newly configured network and systems will be measured against.