Finland’s emergency services have been working alongside the Communications Regulatory Authority and telecoms operators to test countrywide mobile access to the 112 emergency phone number.
The testing looked at the capability of mobile phones to access the general emergency number from locations where a service provider’s network was unavailable. Reliance on mobile phones means that people can find themselves in need of emergency assistance in isolated areas that are serviced neither by their own provider, nor a rival network.
Emergency services officer Katri Kalliomäki says that testing was carried out in areas that were completely devoid of network coverage, including, amongst others, inside a cave.
“The tests were performed using several different makes of phone,” she says. “Tests involved calling the emergency number both with and without a SIM card, and in all cases the emergency call was successful.”
On smartphones it’s possible to call the emergency number even if the screen lock doesn’t open. Emergency calling has its own menu screen, in which the emergency number 112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked.
According to Kalliomäki, the emergency services do not have statistical information in cases where 112 was called from a location outside of the phone network, but she believes that such instances have occurred. Last year some three million emergency calls were placed in Finland.