Articles about Emergency Services

Vodafone: Dammit Britain, your emergency services need 4G!

Despite not being part of the bid to supply the future Emergency Services Network, Vodafone wants to see public services using its 4G, and has commissioned a YouGov survey (something companies do when they want to put numbers in press releases) of front line workers, such as police officers, nurses, and social workers. The …
Simon Rockman, 28 Aug 2015

Pocket mobe butt dialing clogs up 911 emergency calls, says Google

Researchers with Google have found that accidental "butt dial" calls from mobile phones are creating a headache for emergency call centers. A study published this month by Google's 911 research team found that from 2012-2014, the number of accidental wireless calls to emergency operators has increased, as has the time spent …
Shaun Nichols, 05 Oct 2015

Emergency-service comms omnishambles worsens as HP dives for the door

Things have gone from worse to even worse for the Government’s attempts to replace the ageing emergency-services network, as HP has withdrawn its bid. HP has followed Telefonica in deciding that the terms of the deal were too onerous and deciding it didn’t want to be part of Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme ( …
Simon Rockman, 10 Jul 2015
London BMW 5-Series police car

NHS and POLICE non-emergency services GO DARK after Voda switch failure - source

The collapse of Britain's non-emergency telephone numbers for the police (101) and the NHS (111) last week was due to a switch failure at Vodafone, The Register understands. The outage affected a number of Vodafone's customers on 22 November, including First Great Western, Barclays and RAC. A source told El Reg the outage …
Kat Hall, 28 Nov 2014

PM hints at legislation stick to force blue-light services to share IT

Sick of trying to persuade the blue-light services to consolidate their multiple back-office IT systems, it seems the government is now planning to introduce legislation to force their hands. As it stands there is huge duplication of back-office services, with 43 police forces, 45 fire and rescue services and 10 ambulance …
Kat Hall, 11 Sep 2015

What's the nature of your emergency, Vodafone?

Vodafone has been chided for misleading customers with a telly ad that wrongly implied that the majority of Blighty's emergency services' staff personally subscribed to the mobile operator. Britain's ad watchdog agreed with three out of four complaints submitted by the parent company of rival O2 - Telefonica UK. The TV …
Kelly Fiveash, 13 Aug 2014
Police outside 10 Downing Street. Credit: zongo

Home Office: It's an EMERGENCY! We need proper comms

The Home Office is seeking suppliers for its Emergency Services Network contract, part of moves to replace the incumbent gaffe-prone £2.9bn Airwave contract due to expire in 2016. Contracts will be awarded in 2015 for radio, television, communication, telecommunication and related equipment, with the new ESN will going live from …
Kat Hall, 21 Nov 2014

US 911 service needs emergency upgrade and some basic security against scumbags

Defcon 22 The US emergency response system is in urgent need of better security as it’s surprisingly easy to disable or spoof 911 calls. In a talk at Defcon 22 two doctors (who are also hackers) and a security consultant presented research into the emergency response system and how calls via fixed line, mobile phones and VoIP are routed. …
Iain Thomson, 11 Aug 2014
Screenshot of Google Crisis Map

Licenses blocking third-party emergency warnings

Last weekend, a fire-storm in the Perth Hills destroyed 55 homes, and today, Victoria is facing fire conditions close to those experienced on “Black Saturday” in 2009 (having already suffered power cuts in the heatwave). In such conditions, emergency services do their best to distribute warning information via their Websites and …
Cell tower, view from below. Image by

Roll-your-own public safety broadband network too pricey for Australia

Australia’s Productivity Commission says emergency services should drop the idea of building a dedicated mobile broadband network and use commercial services instead. In its draft report, the Productivity Commission says a dedicated network with its own spectrum would cost more than A$6 billion over the next 20 years. …
Bill Bennett, 23 Sep 2015

Japan to trial emergency 'calls' by Twitter in disaster zones

Japanese authorities will soon trial a new warning system that would allow imperiled members of the public to contact the emergency services by sending messages on social networking sites like Twitter. The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said it will test the system this (northern) summer, Kyodo reported. The disaster …
Phil Muncaster, 13 Mar 2013
Dispatchers are vital to co-ordinating on the ground activities

Ditch crappy landlines and start reading Twitter, 999 call centres told

The emergency 999 call system needs a radical digital shake-up to incorporate text and social media responses, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has said in a report today (July 8). The report, Contacting Emergency Services in the Digital Age, recommends the blue light services move away from landlines to …
Kat Hall, 09 Jul 2015

EU signs off on eCall emergency-phone-in-every-car plan

The European Union's plan to insist every new car on the road by 2015 includes a mobile device that phones home after a crash is set to become reality, after the European Commission signed off draft legislation to enact the scheme. Assent from the European Parliament and Council of the European Union is now required, but little …
Simon Sharwood, 14 Jun 2013
The Turbo Ace Octocopter. Pic: Turbo Ace

Disaster-gawping cam drones to be blasted out of the sky in California

California politicians want emergency services to knock interfering drones out of the sky without fear of repercussion – after a gang of flying gizmos got in the way of firefighters tackling a terrifying blaze. Last Friday, a forest fire roared across Interstate 15 near Cajon Pass in southern California, forcing motorists to …
Iain Thomson, 22 Jul 2015
crash test dummies

Hello? Police? Yes, I'm a car and my idiot driver's crashed me

New cars sold in the EU will soon be able to call the emergency services without human intervention. A new law approved by MEPs on Tuesday will make the so-called eCall system obligatory for all new car models sold in the EU from April 2018. eCall uses the Europe-wide 112 emergency number to call the emergency services …
Jennifer Baker, 19 Mar 2015

Wake up, sheeple! If you ask Siri about 9/11 it will rat you out to the police!

The Illuminati have revealed themselves once again, this time through their "intelligent personal assistant" Siri, which immediately reports device owners to the police when they ask about 9/11. CBCnews reports that 114 budding truthers were redirected to the police over a two hour period on Sunday morning. Police believe the …
The Register breaking news

Motorola upgrades Vic emergency network

The Victorian government has awarded Motorola Solutions with an $AU130 million contract to upgrade and extend the management of Victoria’s Metropolitan Mobile Radio (MMR) network. The network is part of the Victorian Government’s Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA). The contract represents a four year …
A bus on fire in Whaddon

Nice 4G-for-plods demo, Samsung. Good luck actually selling it

Samsung has staked its claim towards being an integral part of the emergency services with a demonstration of its public safety solution - the first based on the 3GPP Rel.12 standard - using LTE technology. A post on the official Samsung blog explains how 80 devices were connected to a network to demonstrate PS-LTE, or Public …
Simon Rockman, 02 Jun 2015
Airwave has given the police reliable comms

Home Office seeks advice on Police Radio omnishambles

The Home Office has announced a new twist in the sorry tale of the Emergency Services Network saga and is asking suppliers to consult on a procurement framework that started two years ago. The government department has published a Prior Information Notice (PIN) for a tender to replace the Airwave communications equipment used …
Simon Rockman, 17 Aug 2015
Car crash

Verizon wants to smartify old cars

Black, grey, and white hats associated with car hacking are flying in the air today, with Verizon announcing it's going to vastly expand their attack surface. That's not what the US network operator actually says, of course. What the company has announced is that its “project hum” has gone general-availability. Hum is …
Dispatchers are vital to co-ordinating on the ground activities

Brit plods' post-TETRA radio omnishambles comes home to roost

The £1.2bn emergency services contract which The Register flagged up as an omnishambles six months ago has now, as we predicted, collapsed. After a year-long bidding process the government had whittled the tenders down to two companies: EE and O2. Now O2 has pulled out as a result of Telefonica selling the network to Three’s …
Simon Rockman, 09 Jun 2015
The Incredible Shrinking Man

Buffoon in 999 call: 'Cat ate my bacon and I want to press charges'

The West Yorkshire fuzz have released recordings of nuisance calls requesting a cat be arrested for eating a man's bacon and a complaint about a noisy washing machine, as well as a request to identify the actor in Magnum PI*. As reported by the Yorkshire Post, a man rang the police to complain about his girlfriend's cat eating …
Team Register, 31 Jul 2015
The Register breaking news

QLD flood report calls for emergency services broadband network

The Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry’s Final Report calls for the creation of a dedicated wireless broadband network for the emergency services. The report finds that says black spots for the analogue radios used by Queensland emergency services at the time of the floods were “inevitable”, before going on to endorse …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Mar 2012
Amazon under a cloud

Trading Standards pokes Amazon over 'libellous' review

Trading Standards has this week intervened on behalf of a small business owner to ask Amazon to reconsider its refusal to remove a factually inaccurate review. Steve Smith, director of nuisance call screening company trueCall Care, complained to Amazon regarding a serious claim his device blocks all incoming calls from the …
Kat Hall, 21 Apr 2015
Svolvaer, Vågan Municipality, Austvågøy Island, Lofoten, Nordland County, Norway - photo by Vincent van Zeijst

Digital killed the radio star: Norway names FM switchoff date

Norway is claiming a world first: having successfully implemented digital radio, the country has announced the dates for a progressive FM radio shutdown. The end will come during 2017, says the country's Ministry of Culture, which has announced that the conditions it set down in 2011 have been met. Instead of the five national …
crash test dummies

Your new car will dob you in to the cops if you crash, decrees EU

New cars sold in the EU from March 2018 will have to phone the authorities if they think they've been in a crash. A watered-down version of the eCall proposal has found favour with the EU Commission, meaning when a car or light van crashes, it will automatically summon the emergency services. It will use the emergency number of …
Simon Rockman, 29 Apr 2015
Driverless car

Whitehall maps out Blighty's driverless future

The UK's Department for Transport – with £20m of R&D taxpayer money on the table (the first tranche of a total £100m) – has published a code of conduct for driverless car testing. Whitehall hopes to push British motor makers ahead of the game in getting driverless cars on the road, the DfT said. The code follows on from a …

Chlorine gas horror leak at Apple data center puts five in hospital

A chlorine gas leak at an Apple data center has landed five people in hospital. Emergency crews received a call about 2pm local time from the Apple facility on Startown Road, in Maiden, North Carolina. Local news helicopters captured footage of people being given medical attention and oxygen masks outside the facility. The …
Kieren McCarthy, 01 Jun 2015
Police pursue JCB

EU law bods: New eCall crash system WON'T TRACK YOU. Really

No, your car won’t be spying on you, say MEPs, but it will call you an ambulance should you need it. The European Parliament has reached a deal with national ministers to introduce a mandatory “eCall” system for all new cars from April 2018. However, although the system would automatically call the 112 emergency number in the …
Jennifer Baker, 09 Dec 2014
Zombie rising from the grave

Verizon outage borks phones, TVs, internet for hapless East Coast folk

Update All of US carrier Verizon's services have been struck down by an outage across Delaware, New Jersey, and New York since 5:27am EDT. Down Detector has recorded a spike in complaints since this morning, and its own commentards have tracked the outage by offering their experiences and referencing them with their area codes. …

BlackBerry pecks up crisis squawker AtHoc to add sauce to BBM

BlackBerry shed some light on its latest acquisition target, AtHoc, today. It looks an improbable fit at first: AtHoc does crisis comms for emergency services and campuses, and its big customers include the military, the Department of Homeland Security and the DoD. Speaking at BlackBerry’s annual security summit in New York, …
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Jul 2015

Science teacher jammed his school kids' phones, gets week suspension

A high school teacher in Tampa Bay, Florida, has been suspended without pay for using a jamming device to keep students off their cellphones. Science teacher Dean Liptak will spend five days on the naughty step at Fivay High School for employing a device that prevented nearby phones from making or receiving calls, sending and …
Shaun Nichols, 03 Jun 2015

FCC taps CenturyLink on shoulder, mumbles about a fine for THAT six-hour 911 outage

US comms regulator the FCC has fined CenturyLink $16m (£10.8m) for a network outage that left 11 million Americans unable to make 911 calls. CenturyLink made a $772m (£520m) profit in 2014. Last month, the watchdog charged Verizon $3.4m for its part in the downtime – and this week has smacked down the ISP and telco CenturyLink. …
Iain Thomson, 08 Apr 2015

Who fancies a billion-quid bonanza? Just flog the Home Office some shiny walkie-talkies

The UK Home Office is touting a mega contract worth up to £1.2bn to build a next-generation comms network for Blighty's brave emergency services. Led by the Crime and Policing Group, under the auspices of the Emergency Services Mobile Communications programme, the new system must provide voice calls and wireless broadband …
Paul Kunert, 23 Apr 2014
The Register breaking news

What did you do on Emergency Services day?

Having agreed on a cross-Europe emergency services number, 112, the EU was shocked to discover that hardly anyone in Europe knew it, and so declared yesterday, February 11, to be "European 112 Day". Reg readers, being a distinctly Europhile crowd, were out in force celebrating the day in suitable fashion by summoning the …
Bill Ray, 12 Feb 2009
The Project Loon team prepares solar panels, electronics and balloon envelopes for launch as the sun rises in New Zealand.

That's no plane wreck, that's a Google Wi-Fi balloon

Emergency Services in New Zealand town today scrambled to assist what they thought was a downed plane, but actually turned out to be one of Google's Project Loon WiFi-beaming balloons. Project Loon is Google's attempt to become an ISP of sorts by floating balloons over parts of the world where internet access is not often …
Simon Sharwood, 20 Jun 2014
Cell tower, view from below. Image by

France will flog off 700MHz to boost mobe broadband while UK dithers. Thanks, Ofcom

Updated British mobile phone coverage will lag further behind the rest of Europe this year: now the French are auctioning off valuable spectrum space, at 700MHz, to high-speed mobile networks. Ofcom, in its recent strategy review, said it’s targeting 2022 for a similar allocation (although possibly sooner). However, its French …
Simon Rockman, 02 Apr 2015

'My house is on fire m8 lol' ... 911 texting tested in the US

Injured, on fire, or under fire citizens can now text the emergency services in a new pilot program in the US. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said that it had selected a number of (primarily rural) areas to trial the service, in which citizens can send texts to 911 in order to notify police and fire departments of …
Shaun Nichols, 15 May 2014

Keep your stupid drones away from piloted aircraft, rages CAA

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has complained of six incidents since May of last year in which boys and their toys almost collided with piloted craft in British airports' airspace. An Airbus A320 passenger jet managed to miss a hovering drone at Heathrow by a mere 6m (20ft) last July, a frightening proximity considering …

BT hands £129m back to after beating rural broadband targets

Both BT and the Ministry of Fun – or the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, if you prefer – have spun BT’s toeing-the-line-of-a-contractual-obligation as unbridled generosity towards taxpayers. A statement from the Minister of Fun, John Whittingdale, said: It's fantastic to see that the rollout of superfast broadband is …
Simon Rockman, 30 Jul 2015
The solar powered patrol vehicle employed by the Fort Knox directorate of emergency services. Credit: US Army

Self-driving CARS? BORING. We want self driving, LIZARD dodging GOLF CARTS

Many jaded readers of the Register, noting on the interwebs the endless stream of stories about self-driving cars - being worked upon by such companies as Google - may have wondered whether in fact anyone at all is actually working on the real, genuine problems confronting the human race. Well wonder no more, my jaundiced …
Lewis Page, 02 Sep 2015

IT gets $AU200 million new spend in Qld budget

The IT sector will be busily trawling through the Australian state of Queensland's budget papers, with the government yesterday announcing tech spends in health, emergency services communications, and online service delivery. Queensland Health, whose troubled history in IT has previously left it out-of-pocket by a cool billion …

Police, firefighters, ambulances, hospitals: 20 per cent still rely on Win Server 2003

Exclusive One in every five public-sector health and emergency services organisations in the UK will still be running Windows Server 2003 after Microsoft ends extended support today. A Reg investigation of 33 hospitals, ambulance trusts, police and fire and rescue services found that many are still running Windows Server 2003 on a lot …

Peep peep! All aboard the £300m UK education IT procurement express

The clock is ticking for tech suppliers wanting to grab a seat on the soon-to-be refreshed UK "ICT Services for Education" framework gravy train, estimated to be worth up to £300m over four years. A contract notice was placed by Crown Commercial Services on the Official Journal of the European Union at the weekend, indicating …
Paul Kunert, 28 Oct 2014

Psst. Hey, Jock. I got £100m for outsourcers here. Fancy a hit?

A £100m pot of cash for managed service providers will form part of the Scottish government's next public sector-wide tech agreement. A prior information notice on the Official Journal of the EU was distributed to suppliers for the replacement to the Scottish Procurement Framework, which is currently winding down. "Scottish …
Paul Kunert, 24 Jul 2014

Naked Aussie gets wedged in washing machine

An Aussie bloke who climbed naked into a top-loader washing machine in an attempt to surprise his other half provided a top afternoon's entertainment for local emergency services. The unnamed chap from Mooroopna, some 180km north of Melbourne, apparently decided it was a bit of a wheeze to conceal himself inside the appliance …
Lester Haines, 06 Jan 2014
Airwave has given the police reliable comms

Police radios will be KILLED soon – yet no one dares say 'Huawei'

In less than 18 months' time the police radio network will be switched off. There is no obvious replacement and the looming omnishambles is turning into a bonanza for Arqiva, the only company brave enough to offer a solution. Peter Neyroud CBE, former head of the National Policing Improvement Agency and now at the University of …
Riot police in London. Pic: Steve Jackson

Met Police puts iPads, Windows and Android mobes on trial

The long-awaited arrival of mobile devices in the Metropolitan Police is still another two years away, interim chief technology officer of the Met Stephen Deakin has told El Reg. The Met is currently trialling 850 iPads. However, Deakin said the force is also assessing commodity devices running Windows, Android and iOS. "We are …
Kat Hall, 20 Apr 2015

I could spoof Globalstar satellite messages, boasts infosec bod

Black Hat 2015 Intercepting and spoofing satellite communications carried over the Globalstar network is possible with modest technical skills and an investment of just $1,000, according to new research due to be unveiled at Black Hat. Globalstar is downplaying the threat, stating that its system isn’t getting hacked. Globalstar's consumer- …
John Leyden, 05 Aug 2015
Nokia Lumia 930

Mobile broadband giants blow $45bn on Uncle Sam's finest air

Cell networks in the US have spent $44.9bn buying the rights to use a chunk of the American government's airwaves for wireless broadband networks. The FCC has just finished auctioning off the frequencies in its latest Advanced Wireless Services sale, dubbed AWS-3. It had hoped to bank just $10bn from the selloff to help line the …
Shaun Nichols, 29 Jan 2015