Emergency Roadside Telephone (ERT)
This article considers how public road administrators and highway agencies can improve safety by the provision of Emergency Roadside Telephone (ERT), sometimes known as a Emergency Roadside Call System (ERCS) or Emergency Call Box (ECB). It will also look at critical issues which needs to be addressed when selecting an effective Emergency Roadside Telephone - ERT / Emergency Roadside Call System - ERCS / Emergency Call Box - ECB.
The challenge for Highway Agencies
Greater focus on public road safety records. Increasing numbers of motorists in distress due to roadside breakdowns. Targets on delivery of road improvements. Reduction in available budgets. Now, more than ever, it is important to find ways to reduce costs, increase efficiencies whilst maximising road safety.
Focus on Road Safety
Highway agencies and Public Road Administraors are measured on their road safety records, which is typically based on the number of incidents, accidents, injuries and fatalities. The challenge is to find a solution that can reduce the number of injuries and accidents inside underground road tunnels, on bridges or along public highways, whilst minimising the expenditure on public budgets.
ERT Phones: A Cost effective way of improving safety records
The provision of Emergency Call Box (ECB) / SOS call box telephones for use by stranded motorists or people in highway emergency situations is a tried and tested method of improving public road safety records. Typically, an Emergency Roadside Telephone - ERT system will reduce serious and long term injuries by 40% over a 3 year period, by virtue of alerting incidents faster and by delivering a more appropriate emergency response. To improve road safety, most countries worldwide also stipulates a regulatory requirement to install emergency roadside telephones. As an example, The European Parliament Directive of 2004/54/EC stipulates that all road tunnels above 500 meters in length should have Emergency Roadside Telephones installed at least every 150 meters.
Emergency Roadside Telephone - ERT are typically connected to a transport police control room and/ or emergency breakdown services. An autodial on handset lift is often used to connect users directly to the remote control room for appropriate response in each situation. By using an Emergency Roadside Telephone - ERT system, the location of the incident will immediately be known to central control room staff, and it is this unique feature that makes Emergency Roadside Telephone - ERT systems such a critical part of the prevision of road security.
Norphonic has a long history of delivering Emergency Roadside Telephone - ERT systems in many countries, ensuring essential communications when it is most needed. In the remaining part this review we shall look at some of the issues that needs to be addressed when selecting your Emergency Roadside Telephone - ERT system.
VoIP vs. Analogue Telephones?
In roadside applications, the telephone of choice would always b a VoIP telephone. There are a number of reasons for this, but mainly, since the VoIP telephone use IP networks to carry voice communications, it has additional software features which makes such a system particularly attractive in roadside applications.
One feature, found in all Norphonic Heavy Duty VoIP telephones, is the self monitoring and fault check function, which allows central control room staff to automatically receive updates about the telephone components, if the telephone hook is left in an on/off position etc.
Second, control room staff can use the Norphonic Remote Management Feature to upload software updates from a central location, switch the telephone on/off, or control other telephone components, thereby slashing maintenance costs usually encountered with comparable analogue systems.
Fiber Optic / Ethernet Networks and Roadside Applications
Modern and efficient road administration facilities utilise improved control methods and increased mechanisation to achieve better control whilst reducing costs. The use of fiber optics for effective communications and to monitor, analyse and control the equipment and facilities is proven to improve efficiency. Fiber Optic networks are therefore used to manage, control and interconnect a wide range of traffic technology, including:
- VoIP Emergency Roadside Telephones (ERT)
- Tunnel Fans and Ventilation Control systems
- SCADA systems
- Access Control systems
- Public Address and Voice Alarm systems
- Tunnel Fire Detection systems
- Remote Video Monitoring systems
A Typical Emergency Roadside Telephone - ERT Installation
The below figure shows a typical Emergency Roadside Telephone - ERT installation. Emergency Call Box Telephones can either be connected in a circle formation to provide a redundant network or in a line to connect directly to a PBX. The distance between telephones can differ somewhat in various countries, depending on local regulations and best practice. For example, for European road tunnels, the European Directive 2004/54/EC on Minimum Safety Requirements in Tunnels stipulates that road administrators do not extend beyond 150 meters between SOS Callbox / ERT telephones for public safety reasons.
In some cases, where the end user wants to avoid laying down a fiber cable or where the environment prevents this, a wireless solution may be an option. Norphonic products are ideally suited for wireless applications too. In the below example, the Norphonic ECB telephone is connected to a WiFi anntenna which enables the signal to travel in different directions:
The flexibility of the Norphonic Emergency Roadside Telephone therefore means that it could be used on a fixed fiber cable layout or in a wireless VoIP environment. There are no particular barriers to installing Wireless / WiFi Emergency Roadside Telephone solutions, but the network designer should be aware of potential voice quality pit-falls and plan for these. Some key things to be aware of in terms of voice quality when designing your network layout:
Latency - delay from data is transmitted until it is received. Noticable in conversations if latency goes above 100ms.
Jitter - variances in latency between packets. High jitter means large variance in packet latency and degrades speech quality.
Out of order datapackets - degrades speech quality, is often caused by jitter
What to look for in an Emergency Roadside Telephone Solution?
There are many issues that needs to be addressed prior to commissioning a VoIP system for an Emergency Roadside Telephone application, such as evaluating the installation environment, functionality and temperature ranges. Below are some key pointers to look at when choosing your Emergency Roadside Telephone - ERT / Emergency Roadside Call System - ERCS:
- Is autodial on handset lift available? In most Emergency Roadside Telephone - ERT applications, it is an express wish that an autodial on handset lift is possible, which allows the end user to simply lift the handset to automatically direct the call straight to the control facility. This means that the roadside user do not worry about what number to dial in an emergency.
- Is the telephone weather resistant? Roadside help point telephones are often placed outside in areas with no or little supervision and therefore need to be robust to deal with attempted vandalism as well as exposure to rain, extreme temperatures and dust. An IP rating to IP65 is therefore recommended for Emergency Roadside Telephone - ERT applications. See definition of Ingress Protection in the Glossary on this webpage for further information.
- Does the telephone have buildt-in Fiber Ports? if you are looking to install a redundant solution, you should evaluate if the telephone comes with buildt in single mode fiber ports. This will save you from buying switches for every phone in order to hook the telephone up to the fiber optic network. All Norphonic Heavy Duty VoIP Telephones are available with 100 Mbit Single Mode Fiber Ports buildt into the telephone, allowing cost effective redundant networking.
- Can the system work with your existing systems and infrastructure? The key thing to look for in this regard, is to examine if the telephone is built on Open Standard SIP technology. Norphonic Heavy Duty VoIP systems are built on Open Standard SIP technology, and tested to be compatible with all major PBX and network systems (Alcatel, Cisco, Asterisk etc)
- Is the system future proof? Can the system be upgraded or changed in the future without having to change all the telephones and the entire network? All Norphonic telephones use Open Source SIP technology and offers an unified and consistent approach to delivering products that can interface with other communication systems, thereby reducing costs and eliminating inefficiencies of using proprietary and non-reusable solutions. Therefore, the Norphonic Heavy Duty VoIP Telephones can be changed with other systems without loss or differentiation to the level of service.
- Is the system shock and vibration proof? telephones need to be able to withstand shock and vibration, so check this prior to purchase. Does the hookswitch contain moving parts? All Norphonic Heavy Duty VoIP telephones do not contain moving parts, and can therefore operate in extreme areas where dust or exposure to grime is a challenge for traditional telephone systems.
- Can the system work in extreme temperatures? There are wast differences between temperature levels along roads, from sunny summer days to cold winter days, so a wide operating temperature functionality is recommended, from –20 up to +50 celcius degrees.
- Does the telephone incorporate VSQ - Voice Sound Quality? This is a standard feature in all Norphonic telephone systems, ensuring loud and clear sound, even in noisy ambiance areas.
- Is the Emergency Call Box ECB telephone condensation proof? –This can otherwise lead to severe problems in operation as water can easily form inside the unit, affecting performance.
- Does the telephone incorporate a QoS – Quality of Service functionality? This feature, found in all Norphonic telephones, guarantees a certain level of performance in a data flow, ensuring impeccable delivery of voice communications in an IP Network. (see reference to Jitter, Latency and out of order datapackets above)
- Is the system easy to install and to maintain? Norphonic Heavy Duty VoIP telephones are easy to install and have in-built status monitoring and fault check function. This means that the status of the telephones can be monitored from a remote location, saving you considerable maintenance costs.
- Is the telephone colored in such a way that it is easily identified by roadside users? The Norphonic Heavy Duty VoIP comes in a bright yellow color as standard. Special colors and logos can also be customised depending on the user needs and order volumes.
- Is the telephone CE approved? CE marking means that the product is certified to meet EU consumer safety, health or environmental requirements. End users should be aware that some telephones use the intentionally confusing term ”CE” for ”China Export”, and the only way consumers can check this is to closely examine the CE mark/ logo as the two logos are very similar.
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Relevant Information Links
White Papers, Application Guides and FAQ (for ERT project managers):
- Application Guide: Emergency Roadside Telephones - ERT
- White Paper: Road Tunnel Safety (English)
- White Paper: Designing Fiber Optic Networks (English)
- Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions (English)
- Iceland Road Administration selects Norphonic
- Belgium Road Administration selects Norphonic for Antwerp Tunnels
- Norphonic ERT installed in large E18 road project between Kristiansand / Grimstad, Norway
- Norphonic ERT installed in important Flenja Road Tunnel, Western Norway