112 (emergency telephone number)

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112 (emergency telephone number)
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112 is the common emergency telephone number that can be dialed free of charge from any fixed or mobile telephone in order to reach emergency services (ambulance, fire and rescue, police) in numerous European Countries, including all member states of the European Union, as well as several other countries in the world. In some countries other numbers previously used also continue to be available; e.g. 999 and 112 both function in the UK. In the United States, some carriers, including AT&T, will map the number 112 to its emergency number 9-1-1.

In some cases calls to emergency numbers can be made when other calls cannot, e.g., when a telephone has been barred from making outgoing calls for non-payment of bills.


112 is managed and financed in the European Union by each Member State (country) which also decide on the organization of the emergency call centres. The number is also adopted in the candidates for EU accession and members of the EEA agreement.

The International Telecommunications Union recommends that member states that are selecting a primary or secondary emergency number choose either 911, 112 or both.[1] 112 is one of two numbers (the other being the region's own emergency number) that can be dialed on most GSM phones even if the phone is locked.[2] The GSM mobile phone standard designates 112 as an emergency number, so it will work on GSM phones even in North America where GSM systems redirect emergency calls to 911, or Australia where emergency calls are redirected to 000.


A "cocaine alert sign" posted by GGD Amsterdam: the sign reminds people to "Call 112 for an ambulance!"

112 was first standardised by a Recommendation by the CEPT in 1972 and later by a decision of the EU Council in 1991[3] and subsequently reaffirmed in 2002 by article 26 of the Universal Service Directive[4] and its subsequent amendments.[5]

This choice of number has the following advantages:

  • Different digits: with the numeric keypads used universally today, using at least two different digits instead of the same digit repeatedly significantly reduces the risk of accidental calls. Young children, vibrations, defective keys and collisions with other objects are much more likely to press the same key repeatedly than a particular sequence of different keys, particularly with a button-operated keypad. Accidental calls to emergency centres from mobile phones, which can dial emergency numbers even with locked keypad, are a particular problem with same-digit numbers, such as the UK's 999.[6]
  • Low digits: in the days of rotary dial telephones, using only those digits that require the least dial rotation (1 and 2) permitted a dial lock[7] in hole 3 to effectively disable unauthorised access to the telephone network without preventing access to the emergency number 112. The same choice also maximised dialling speed. Additionally, telephone systems used pulse dialling instead of later DTMF tones; briefly activating the hook once has the same effect as dialling "1", so repeatedly pushing the hook might result in calling 1-1-1. For this reason, Germany's police emergency number was changed from 111 to 110. With numeric keypads, pressing only the first and second button on the keypad is marginally easier in a difficult situation than other keys.


The 81 countries which use the 112 number for emergencies include:


E112 is a location-enhanced version of 112. The telecom operator transmits the location information to the emergency centre. The EU Directive E112 (2003) requires mobile phone networks to provide emergency services with whatever information they have about the location a mobile call was made. This directive is based on the FCC's Enhanced 911 ruling in 2001.

The new eCall project for automated emergency calls from cars is based on E1000.

Next Generation 112 (NG112)[edit]

NG112 is defined by two major aspects:

  • Interoperability between emergency services: NG112 enables the several Public Safety Answering Points to be part of a common emergency service IP-network, providing them with redundancy and interoperability features. This network should support data and communications needs for coordinated incident management between PSAPs and provide a reliable and secure environment for emergency communications.
  • Communication between citizens and emergency services: NG112 is designed to enable citizens to reach an authority (e.g., PSAP) by calls using VoIP, text messaging, instant messaging, real-time text, pictures and videos. It could also provide emergency services with more data such as telematics and health data. NG112 enables the delivery of calls, messages and data to the appropriate Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) and other appropriate emergency entities and makes call handling easier.

European 112 Day[edit]

Since 2009 and a tripartite convention signed by the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, 11 February (11/2) is the European 112 Day. At this occasion, events take place to promote the existence and the appropriate use of the EU emergency number.

Expert Group on Emergency Access (EGEA)[edit]

Getting 112 to work across the EU is a complex task. It requires in particular coordination between civil protection administrations (the emergency authorities who handle the call) and electronic communications administrations (who have to make sure that a 112 call reaches the emergency operator). That is why the Commission decided to act at European level and set up the Expert Group on Emergency Access (EGEA) at the end of 2005.

The objective of the group is to deal with practical issues Member States are facing to provide an efficient and effective 112 service to citizens. This group seeks practical solutions to problems experienced by the emergency services at local, regional or national levels and deals with issues related to the application of new technologies for communication with emergency services.

European Emergency Number Association[edit]

EENA, the European Emergency Number Association, is a Brussels-based NGO set up in 1999 dedicated to promoting high-quality emergency services reached by the number 112 throughout the EU. EENA serves as a discussion platform for emergency services, public authorities, decision makers, researchers, international associations and solution providers in view of improving emergency response in accordance with citizens' requirements. EENA is also promoting the establishment of an efficient system for alerting citizens about imminent or developing emergencies.

In May 2014, the EENA memberships include over 1000 emergency services representatives from 71 countries world-wide, 69 solution providers, 59 researchers, 15 international associations/organisations as well as 150 Members of the European Parliament.

112 Foundation[edit]

The 112 Foundation was created to promote the knowledge and appropriate use of the European emergency number 112. Its main objective is to provide all citizens and organisations willing to inform and educate on 112 with information materials and guidelines to organise information campaigns.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]