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ITU To Choose Emergency Line For Mobiles: 911, or 112?

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the what-and-invalidate-a-generation-of-rap-lyrics? dept.

Communications 354

First time accepted submitter maijc writes "The International Telecommunication Union will determine the standard emergency phone numbers for new generations of mobile phones and other devices. AP reports that member states have agreed that either 911 or 112 should be designated as emergency phone numbers. 911 is currently used in North America, while 112 is standard across the EU and in many other countries worldwide."

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Why not both? (5, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#42272383)

I imagine it would be technically trivial to simply require that *both* numbers link to emergency services. It would be easy to do, and would make things a lot safer for visitors in either America or Europe who may only be familiar with one or the other.

Easy peasy, and no argument needed.

Of course, this is the U.N. we're talking about here, so OF COURSE there will be an argument. And it will no doubt break down fairly quickly into an old-resentment pissing contest between Europe and America, with both sides engaging in increasingly hyperbolic rhetoric and the end result being both sides telling the other to sod off. It will probably be considered a success if four additional numbers don't get proposed by countries who hate the West in general.
 

Prior use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272435)

While we really don't use 112- as a prefix in the US, I could see how someone might use 911- as a prefix elsewhere.

Re:Prior use (2)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#42272543)

While we really don't use 112- as a prefix in the US, I could see how someone might use 911- as a prefix elsewhere.

This is exactly how the arguments will break down. Someone will say something like "you provide 911 in Europe because everyone knows that's the emergency number, but we don't need to provide 112 for the same reason" and nothing can be agreed. GP's idea that both provide both is much better, that way it is neutral and there can be no harm in America routing 112 to the emergency services.

Re:Prior use (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272691)

While we really don't use 112- as a prefix in the US, I could see how someone might use 911- as a prefix elsewhere.

This is exactly how the arguments will break down. Someone will say something like "you provide 911 in Europe because everyone knows that's the emergency number, but we don't need to provide 112 for the same reason" and nothing can be agreed. GP's idea that both provide both is much better, that way it is neutral and there can be no harm in America routing 112 to the emergency services.

There are two other benefits to supporting both 911 and 112, firstly will deprive the American right of a reason to wrap them selves in the flag over being forced to change the number by a bunch of foreigners (like they did with that disabled discrimination treaty) and secondly it will deprive Fox News of fodder for a few weeks worth of angry panel discussions.

Re:Prior use (1)

click2005 (921437) | about 2 years ago | (#42272833)

I'm just glad they're abandoning 999 used in the UK. Its far too easily miscalled on a locked phone.

Re:Prior use (5, Funny)

NevarMore (248971) | about 2 years ago | (#42272857)

The new number is so easy to remember! It's a dandy jingle, 0118 999 881 999 119 725 3

Re:Prior use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272971)

I was coming here to post this!

Re:Prior use (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272837)

Why can't it just stay the same as it is now? There's a reason for that, you know.

If they try to enforce 112, the US will tell them to get bent. +1 is the North American regional prefix, and the US uses it directly as a country prefix.

If they try to enforce 911, India has just as much right to do the same, since +9 is the mid-east regional prefix, and +91 is India's country prefix.

Why must the ITU screw everything up? They're like King Fecas. Everything they touch turns to crap.

Re:Prior use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272937)

To make an international call you need to use the plus sign or double zeros. There is no conflict.

Re:Prior use (2)

lengau (817416) | about 2 years ago | (#42272807)

Just in case anyone is wondering: the NANP [wikipedia.org] has area codes and exchanges starting with 2-9, which means that 112 would be globally unique on NANP (in fact, 11 would allow the phone system to register that you must be dialing 112, since the only time you'd start with a 1 is when dialing the NANP country code followed by an area code, or when dialing the emergency services.

Re:Prior use (1)

Megane (129182) | about 2 years ago | (#42273219)

since the only time you'd start with a 1 is when dialing the NANP country code followed by an area code, or when dialing the emergency services, or when butt-dialing a number unintentionally.

Fixed that for you.

Yes, any number can be butt dialed, but using only one digit (999) or adjacent digits (112) is a lot easier to butt-dial than opposing digits (911). Then again, I've heard that there are phones out there which will dial an emergency number when you smash a bunch of buttons, under the dodgy assumption that it must mean you're really in trouble when you can't coherently dial a number.

Re:Prior use (3, Interesting)

CatBandit (866637) | about 2 years ago | (#42273075)

In fact... if you make 911 the emergency number in Spain we won't be able to dial to the 10% of fixed lines in Madrid in Spain.

91xxxxxxx is how all home lines in Madrid province begin with.

Re:Why not both? (2)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | about 2 years ago | (#42272449)

This.

Although from what I've learned from BBC television shows, the British use 999, so I doubt 911 & 112 is an exhaustive list. Still, why not have a dozen emergency phone numbers?

Re:Why not both? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272591)

The UK added 112 as an alternative many years ago, so while 999 is the popularly ingrained emergency number there would be no problem in the UK with a phone having 112 as the default emergency number.

Re:Why not both? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272661)

This.

Although from what I've learned from BBC television shows, the British use 999, so I doubt 911 & 112 is an exhaustive list. Still, why not have a dozen emergency phone numbers?

You can also use 112 in the UK.

Re:Why not both? (2, Funny)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about 2 years ago | (#42273173)

You can also use 112 in the UK.

But that only works if you hold your phone in your left hand...

Re:Why not both? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272777)

And I thought the emergency number in the UK was 0118 999 881 999 119 7253 or at least that is what I saw on a TV show!

Re:Why not both? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272471)

This. Also may help with getting to someone that speaks your language on the FIRST try which, y'know, might be important in an emergency.

Also, do you have two reflective vests in the cabin of your vehicle? No? MASSIVE FINE. Thanks France.

Re:Why not both? (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about 2 years ago | (#42273283)

Also, do you have two reflective vests in the cabin of your vehicle? No? MASSIVE FINE. Thanks France.

The vests are for all of Europe. France are the officially-sanctioned one-time alcohol-detection penii, which you need to have in your car at all times, so that you can blow them in case you're wondering whether you're still sober enough to drive. Of course, there is only one company manufacturing these, they quadrupled the price since they became mandatory, and are now making much dough over this. I wonder whether someone within the French administration has been nicely rewarded by the company for this windfall?

Re:Why not both? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272473)

I imagine it would be technically trivial to simply require that *both* numbers link to emergency services.

Indeed, here in the UK both 112 & 999 work. I'm not sure why 999 isn't being considered in with 911 & 112?

Re:Why not both? (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#42272655)

I think having three of the same digit is a problem with accidental dials... be it small children playing with a phone or pocket dialing a cell phone.

Re:Why not both? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272817)

I once had a nice, shiny â112â(TM) on my display when taking my phone out of my pocket, that would never have happened back when emergency calls required unlocking the keys. I think that standard matters more than the actual keys one has to press by accident.
Back in the days of rotary dials, the emergency number in Sweden was 90000 to make it harder for children to place calls whilst playing.

Re:Why not both? (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 2 years ago | (#42273299)

I would vote for 90000.

Re:Why not both? (-1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#42272481)

I'd go with '911' simply because the keys are opposite each other; "112" could result in some fat fingering for one. For two, most switches use the first digit being a "1" to denote the beginning of a long distance call. I can imagine calling for emergency services and then asking "Okay, well what country am I speaking with?" Going with '112' breaks a perfectly good standard in a country that at least has a standard phone number format. Try calling India sometime for an example of what a lack of phone number format standards can cause.

The whole point of a standard is to reduce confusion... the one thing in an emergency situation that you don't want.

Re:Why not both? (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 2 years ago | (#42272541)

GSM already standardizes on 112 (even in North America - obviously you can also dial your local emergency number too, so 911 works here), and I don't believe the fat fingering issue you raise has been a problem at all.

Re:Why not both? (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#42272611)

GSM already standardizes on 112 (even in North America - obviously you can also dial your local emergency number too, so 911 works here), and I don't believe the fat fingering issue you raise has been a problem at all.

Indeed, misdialing is only a minor problem with the UK 999

Re:Why not both? (1)

azalin (67640) | about 2 years ago | (#42273141)

Back in the old days some countries used 111, which could very easily dialed accidentally by clicking the receiver contact a few times (rotary pulse dial phones).

Re:Why not both? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272731)

For two, most switches use the first digit being a "1" to denote the beginning of a long distance call.

In the US perhaps, it's mostly 0 in Europe from what I've seen.

Going with '112' breaks a perfectly good standard in a country that at least has a standard phone number format.

Going with '911' breaks a perfectly good standard in multiple countries that already agreed on a standard phone number format.

Ah well, http://xkcd.com/927/ [xkcd.com] right?

Re:Why not both? (3, Informative)

FireFury03 (653718) | about 2 years ago | (#42272737)

most switches use the first digit being a "1" to denote the beginning of a long distance call.

Untrue. In most (but not all) of the world, the international dialing prefix is 00

And in the UK, the prefix 0 denotes a non-local call (i.e. outside your own STD code) whilst 1 usually denotes a service local to your specific telco (customer services, etc) although there are exceptions to this, such as the 118xxx numbers for directory enquiries. Numbers starting 2-9 are local (within your STD code) except for 999 (emergency services).

Going with '112' breaks a perfectly good standard in a country that at least has a standard phone number format.

The problem with this attitude is that mobile standards are international, and there are numerous countries with standard domestic number formats that are not the same as the US's. Unfortunately, the US attitude always seems to be to disagree with any international standardisation process rather than reach a compromise (I think anyone who has worked on the international telephone network protocols will agree with this - most of the ANSI protocols are different to the ITU recommendations for no reason other than to be different)

Re:Why not both? (1)

Alcimedes (398213) | about 2 years ago | (#42273203)

The first digit being a "1" for long distance is only true in the US. When you come up with the phone system, of course you give your country the first country code.

Re:Why not both? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42273143)

What you're saying is true for america but in europe you could say the exact same thing about 911. At least in Sweden, NO phone number start with "1" (because when Sweden changed from "90 000" to "112" LOTS of people got the initial "1" in their local phone numbers changed to another digit..)

However, "most switches use the first digit being a "1" to denote the beginning of a long distance call" would not be an issue, in the long run. If 112 was properly standardized, all of your systems would either let 112 override everything else (and never trigger a long distance call). Also, if I understand the NA number plan, there are no valid numbers that starts with 11, right?

I'm assuming the problem with Indian phone numbers are their mobile numbers? Their landline numbers are organized pretty much exactly like Sweden's. Their mobile numbers seems like a mess though.

Re:Why not both? (1)

Torin Darkflight (851576) | about 2 years ago | (#42272545)

I agree, it would be best for both to be used as emergency numbers. It shouldn't be technically difficult to set it up so that the system automatically forwards calls to 911 if someone dials 112, or vice-versa. In fact, unless I'm mistaken, I've read previously that some GSM providers already do this.

However, if I had to pick one and ONLY one...I would choose 911 simply because you'd be less likely to accidentally dial it, albeit only slightly (I've heard stories about dispatchers receiving butt-dial 911 calls from cell phones). But, it is more difficult to accidentally fat-finger dial 911 as opposed to 112 since 9 and 1 are on opposite corners of the keypad, while 1 and 2 are right next to each other.

Re:Why not both? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42273189)

Unless you own my crappy LG phone. Butt dialing 911 is possible even with the keypad LOCKED! If the 9 key gets pressed, it doesn't matter if it's a whole minute later that the 1 key gets hit a couple times. Even if you hit every other key half a dozen times in the process.

On top of that, just holding down the 9 key is a speed dial for emergency calls - even with the keypad locked. I had to set the speed dial manually to my own phone number to get that to stop happening.

I think I've had 10-15 accidental emergency calls since I got the phone, but it hasn't happened in months now that I've finally found out about the speed dial.

Re:Why not both? (1)

MrDoh! (71235) | about 2 years ago | (#42272547)

yeah, both would seem to be sensible. Those numbers aren't used for anything else are they? So why not make them both activate the emergency services.

Re:Why not both? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#42272565)

I imagine it would be technically trivial to simply require that *both* numbers link to emergency services. It would be easy to do, and would make things a lot safer for visitors in either America or Europe who may only be familiar with one or the other.

^ This.

End of discussion.

Re:Why not both? (1)

ggeens (53767) | about 2 years ago | (#42272581)

I imagine it would be technically trivial to simply require that *both* numbers link to emergency services. It would be easy to do, and would make things a lot safer for visitors in either America or Europe who may only be familiar with one or the other.

AFAIK, phone switches already do that. I'm pretty sure I can dial 100 (emergency number for landlines over here) on my cell phone and ask to send an ambulance over. I think the old emergency number (900 - removed about 20 years ago) still works.

I wouldn't surprise me if 911 also works.

(Not tested - I prefer not to pay a fine for abusing those numbers.)

Never forget (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#42272717)

the twelfth of January!

Re:Never forget (1)

lengau (817416) | about 2 years ago | (#42272879)

Since 112 takes place in Europe, we should be remembering the 11th of February. As a South African, I do so with pride (11-2-1990: The day Nelson Mandela was released from prison).

Re:Never forget (1)

psmears (629712) | about 2 years ago | (#42273021)

Since 112 takes place in Europe, we should be remembering the 11th of February.

Indeed. Or the first of December :-)

Re:Why not both? (4, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 2 years ago | (#42272721)

My phone is doing just that already. When I key in either '112' or '911' it displays 'emergency call' (just tried; of course without making the actual call). Interestingly '999' (the actual emergency call number here) is not recognised. Probably because I'm using a UK-origin Android version on my phone.

Actually I wonder: why is there a number for emergency calls from mobiles? Why can't the mobile phone just tell the network "this is an emergency call, please put me through to the local emergency call centre". Then the phone can link one or more numbers to that. It is already so that if there is no SIM in the phone or you're out of reach of your network, as long as there is any network available you can use it for emergency calls.

Re:Why not both? (3, Informative)

vmlemon (1203598) | about 2 years ago | (#42273179)

In fact, at least with GSM, and UMTS-based handsets, when you dial the local emergency services number, the number itself isn't actually dialled. Instead, a call with a specific "Emergency" flag is made, and the network deals with routing appropriately.

Re:Why not both? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272869)

You are mistakingly assuming that today people will call the emergency number instead of using the phone to record everything, you know, not to get more visitors on youtube, but for evidence, yeah, evidence.

By the way, what's the point of standards across countries anyway? I mean, how many Americans visiting some foreign country will know something else other than English?

Re:Why not both? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272961)

All European countries, as well as others like Australia and New Zealand have already added 112 to their systems as a second number. Equality and sense would indicate having it added to a system that only uses 911.
It's quite simple for people then - in their own country they dial XXX, and at the airport you tell them "in other countries use 112 instead of XXX". They don't need to know it works in their country so they won't get all "burning our flag"...

Re:Why not both? (2)

sribe (304414) | about 2 years ago | (#42273039)

Of course, this is the U.N. we're talking about here, so OF COURSE there will be an argument.

Yes, and to any skilled politician the answer is blindingly obvious, compromise on 512, the average--except of course that leaves room to argue that it should be rounded down to 511 instead of up ;-)

(You think I'm kidding? Why do you think the packet length in ATM is 48 instead of 32 or 64? Yep, the average of two competing proposals over length...)

Re:Why not both? (2)

hduff (570443) | about 2 years ago | (#42273053)

I imagine it would be technically trivial to simply require that *both* numbers link to emergency services. It would be easy to do, and would make things a lot safer for visitors in either America or Europe who may only be familiar with one or the other.

Easy peasy, and no argument needed.

>

Done in one.

My God, both a first post and a reasonable response. What is the world coming to?

But please /.'ers, don't let that stop you from arguing since the world ends in 9 days.

Re:Why not both? (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about 2 years ago | (#42273155)

I imagine it would be technically trivial to simply require that *both* numbers link to emergency services. It would be easy to do, and would make things a lot safer for visitors in either America or Europe who may only be familiar with one or the other.

Sensible idea alert. If you actually dared to speak this out during one of those meetings, security would show up before you had finished your sentence, and escort you out of the door. How dare you shortcuts hours of "collegial" small talk about phone numbers by solving the problem with one small but brilliant idea. After all, the purpose of these meetings is to drag on and on and on, while outside the window the seasons go by (all 4 of them...), and to waste as much otherwise productive work time of highly paid representatives as possible. But let's look at the bright side of this: as long as you've got your laptop with you, this is an excellent opportunity to catch on on any documentation work that you may have to do for other projects, all the while charging your time on ITU...

Huh... (1)

koan (80826) | about 2 years ago | (#42272439)

If I'm lying there barely conscious it seems to me the easiest thing to do would be to dial the same number 3 times, for example 111, you don't even have to look to do that.

Re:Huh... (1)

leuk_he (194174) | about 2 years ago | (#42272523)

The easiest thing to do out of your pocket.

Re:Huh... (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 2 years ago | (#42272527)

And the UK - and therefore the Baby Jesus - uses 999 for that reason.

However, it's also easy to dial it accidentally, especially from your pocket, which is the argument against it.

Re:Huh... (1)

bennies (962689) | about 2 years ago | (#42272549)

Probably to many false positives. But yeah that would be nice.

the UK uses 999 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272733)

I don't think so. The UK traditionally uses 999. When GSM took off it became possible to use 112 as an alternative (both currently work in the UK). I don't recall anyone ever complaining about 999 having too many false positives.

Re:Huh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272583)

australia has 000 its easy shit

Re:Huh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272945)

That's because most Australians are illiterate and it's easier for them to remember "Three of them roundy things".

Re:Huh... (1)

LinuxInDallas (73952) | about 2 years ago | (#42272609)

The fact that it is that easy to dial is probably the best reason not to use it. It needs to be easy to rememeber but not easy to accidentally dial.

0118-999-881-999-119-7253 (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272447)

What about the UK standard 0118-999-881-999-119-7253?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ab8GtuPdrUQ

SEX !! SEX !! SEX !! AUF KRAUT !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272467)

666 !! Hotline to HELL !! Which, as I gather, goes straight to Steve Ballmer's blackberry !!

Whats wrong with making it /really/ easy (4, Funny)

MrDoh! (71235) | about 2 years ago | (#42272491)

It's trivial to use; 0118 999 881 999 119 725

3

why can't we standardise on that?

Re:Whats wrong with making it /really/ easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272625)

Too many folks would forget that 3.

Re:Whats wrong with making it /really/ easy (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#42272743)

why can't we standardise on that?

Possibly because the last person who attempted to dial that particular emergency service wound up speaking to someone in another country before giving up, sending a e-mail, and then waiting while his coworkers slowly went insane from a head wound, foot injury, etc., and dropped unconscious. When he'd finally had enough of the waiting game, they busted into the room and bludgeoned him with the door. It's not exactly what I'd call a ringing endorsement. *cough*

Re:Whats wrong with making it /really/ easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272813)

Too easy to dial accidentaly while carrying the phone in your pocket.

the real one is 912 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272497)

the real one is 912

And why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272505)

And why does the EU use 112? Because we use 911. Seemed like the perfect reason to them.

Why am I greeted with commenting fields... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272507)

...instead of just seeing everyone else's comments like normally?

Nobody gives a fuck (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272509)

about the ITU. Or the UN. Seriously. Nobody.

Reasons for either (1)

phorm (591458) | about 2 years ago | (#42272521)

I believe in Asia (or at least Korea), it's 119, so even those two aren't consistent internationally.

One argument for 112 is that it's easier to quickly dial if you're having an emergency moment and your finger-mobility is limited.
An argument against would be that it's easier to dial by accident.
I believe that 911/119 were chosen partially because those were the farthest spaced digits, to prevent accidental dialling.

I once had a co-worker who had a very simple phone number. Something like 555-545-4544 (or had only 2-3 unique digits).
He amused us once by playing back a message that some random young child had left on his voicemail over the weekend, presumably after mashing keys on the phone. The interesting part was that it wasn't the first such voicemail he had, but it was generally from different random children.

So 112 may be easier to dial in an emergency, but it's also likely to have a higher number of mis-dials or 3-year-olds that just picked up a phone and mashed part of the number-pad.

Re:Reasons for either (4, Informative)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#42272659)

I believe in Asia (or at least Korea), it's 119, so even those two aren't consistent internationally.

One argument for 112 is that it's easier to quickly dial if you're having an emergency moment and your finger-mobility is limited. An argument against would be that it's easier to dial by accident. I believe that 911/119 were chosen partially because those were the farthest spaced digits, to prevent accidental dialling.

I once had a co-worker who had a very simple phone number. Something like 555-545-4544 (or had only 2-3 unique digits). He amused us once by playing back a message that some random young child had left on his voicemail over the weekend, presumably after mashing keys on the phone. The interesting part was that it wasn't the first such voicemail he had, but it was generally from different random children.

So 112 may be easier to dial in an emergency, but it's also likely to have a higher number of mis-dials or 3-year-olds that just picked up a phone and mashed part of the number-pad.

The 911 goes back to the dial telephone days, when numbers could be dialled by line clicks. Nine is very unlikely to be mis-dialled, but took longer (9 or 10 pulses to send), and 1 was quick, so 911 was a good compromise. In the UK 999 would almost never be dialled by line noise but took longer.

Re:Reasons for either (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#42272999)

999 was chosen partly because it was easy to dial in the dark, or by the disabled - you could just grab the whole disc and turn it as far as it would go, three times.

Re:Reasons for either (1)

peppepz (1311345) | about 2 years ago | (#42272709)

I believe that 911/119 were chosen partially because those were the farthest spaced digits, to prevent accidental dialling.

Weren't telephones using a rotary dial in the times when such decisions were made?

0118-999-881-999-119-7253 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272555)

What about the newer UK standard 0118-999-881-999-119-7253 [youtube.com] ?

So the ITU is going to make one of them not work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272593)

In order to prove they can come to an agreement on something, they're going to make a choice of one number or the other? Wouldn't it make more sense to have both of the numbers work? Is this just the ITU doing something in order to prove it can do something?

This is just a trial run (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272825)

The ITU's target is to break the Internet, but they recognize that it's an ambitious goal, so they're first looking to break the phone system to gain some experience.

Re:So the ITU is going to make one of them not wor (1)

Tridus (79566) | about 2 years ago | (#42272835)

It's the nature of large bureaucracies to make decisions in order to be seen as doing something. It doesn't matter if the something actually makes sense or not.

In the ITU's case, they've suffered some significant losses recently with "4G" being co-opted to mean "3G" by phone carriers and by their internet regulatory plan being shot down by the US. So they really need to do something here if only to feel like they're not totally impotent (like most of the UN is).

Why not have both? (1)

CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) | about 2 years ago | (#42272641)

Why not have both?

Re:Why not have both? (1)

andrewbaldwin (442273) | about 2 years ago | (#42272805)

Why not indeed?

The emergency number in the UK is 999 but all systems are configured to route 112 and 999 to the same place.

Well, the answer is obvious then. (4, Funny)

sootman (158191) | about 2 years ago | (#42272645)

> 911 is currently used in North America, while 112
> is standard across the EU and in many other
> countries worldwide.

911 then, of course. USA! USA! USA!

Clearly it should be 911 (1)

Pope (17780) | about 2 years ago | (#42272651)

That way no one would ever forget it.

112 (5, Insightful)

Bogtha (906264) | about 2 years ago | (#42272663)

911 is currently used in North America, while 112 is standard across the EU and in many other countries worldwide.

112 isn't just standard across the EU and many other countries, it's part of the GSM standard. Outside of America getting its own way, there's no good reason to pick anything other than that, it's practically a worldwide standard already.

Re:112 (1)

acidfast7 (551610) | about 2 years ago | (#42272943)

lol at America. next thing you know, they'll say they invented the "telephone."

Re:112 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272973)

GSM sucks. It's been hacked. CDMA is more secure and allows for more calls on a tower than GSM.

Re:112 (4, Funny)

jeffy210 (214759) | about 2 years ago | (#42273009)

So is metric, look how well America uses that :-\

Why not both? (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | about 2 years ago | (#42272671)

There's a lot of inertia behind both of these numbers in their respective realms. Since all it takes is one non-informed person to call the wrong number and subsequently die, political pressure against standardizing on one number is going to exist.

That being said, why not make both numbers point to the same service planet-wide?

Let the phone remember it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272727)

Android already provides an "Emergency call" button.
Then the UN could get on with sorting out world peace instead...

Perhaps not practical with older clockwork phones though.

its a 5 second decision (1)

mestar (121800) | about 2 years ago | (#42272771)

Do both. Waste 1% of phone number space, which has basically no cost. Problem solved.

oblig. Simpsons (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272783)

Ah, no you got the wrong number, this is 91...2.

Does Not Matter! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272843)

The ITU can do whatever they like, it REALLY does not matter at all.

Each country or local jurisdiction will do what they choose, exactly as they do now. The ITU seems to have gotten the idea that they are some form of governing body with the power to make edicts, rather than a loose knit consortium of telecom interests whose purpose is to try to find consensus for standards. They are there to work out protocol standards NOT run the internet or decide what phone numbers are to be used.

The ITU is setting itself up to be relegated to be completely ignored and utterly unimportant, or even disbanded.

GSM (2)

nodan (1172027) | about 2 years ago | (#42272845)

Why isn't that built into GSM rather than depending on a phone number? Just pressing an emergency button should dial the proper number anyway, no?

"Deeply divided" over what now? (1)

game kid (805301) | about 2 years ago | (#42272847)

Wednesday's announcement marks a rare show of consensus at the International Telecommunications Union meeting in Dubai, where delegates remain deeply divided over whether to endorse greater government sway over the Internet.

Say what now? I'm pretty sure we have consensus here that that's Complete And Utter Bullshit. The only point of dispute there is which government(s) get the greater sway (because they all want authoritarian power over content and delivery for their own reasons); and the only dispute here is whether the US or one of the other govs would be less horrible (and the comments I've read thus far mostly sway toward the US).

But yeah, of course [wikipedia.org] governments want more power [slashdot.org] over the internet. Those that don't just need to be...convinced [slashdot.org] .

911/119 (1)

sweffymo (1760622) | about 2 years ago | (#42272897)

As others have said, that number was chosen because it is the hardest to dial accidentally or mis-dial. When numbers are right next to each other, it's a lot easier to mess up while dialing or to have a case of the hot dog fingers and accidentally dial the emergency number.

Lets compromise (2)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#42272925)

and go for 9112

112 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272939)

How about America gets 911 when they use the Metric System.

Or we boot the 47% that thinks that Fox or Fox Lite is reality.

112, every time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272947)

Hardly anyone has a pulse telephone these days of course, but there are those that do, and 112 is inherently quicker to dial than 911.

Whenever I need the assistance of Scotland Yard... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42272949)

...I simply ask the operator for 'Whitehall 1234'.

Alternatively, if the matter is urgent, one can always telegraph 212b, Baker Street...

easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42273007)

# of people using 112
# of people using 911
biggest # wins

next topic on the agenda...

911 prefix conflict (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42273019)

Isn't 1xx numbers pretty much standard as service numbers in most countries?

Also, at least in Brazil, 911 conflicts with existing phone numbers 911x-xxxx.

It's actually a straightforward matter... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42273051)

We will HAVE to use both. Plus any other widely used set of numbers.

Think about it. Let us say we standardise on 333. Are we then going to allow 911, 112, or 999 to be used for other purposes? Of course not - the potential for confusion is just too great. So ALL numbers which are widely understood to be 'emergency' numbers will HAVE to be designated as such, and routed to the same place.

This is, of course, already happening. So this whole discussion is a waste of time...

If it's International . . . (1)

hduff (570443) | about 2 years ago | (#42273121)

Why not 666?

The Mark of the Beast is easy to remember.

Yes, I _am_ an agent of Satan, but the duties are mostly ceremonial.

And why? (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about 2 years ago | (#42273195)

IT has been managing these issues for decades. This is not new, and neither is the concept of a phone being used by someone in another country and the potential confusion in emergency calls.

Landlines aren't portable, like cellphones, but their users are. Someone from Germany, for instance, in New York on business, may well have to make an emergency call - how did they ever figure it out in the old days?

And my phone (my last 2 actually) doesn't have a useful speed dial to 911. I have to unlock it, find the dialer, and only then do I get to dial 911. I can't conceive of a reason to complain about one-button access yet, though of course I obviously haven't been in an emergency situation. How does an iPhone dial 911 quickly? I dunno, I use an Android phone. Quick doesn't seem to apply.

This really seems like ITU trying to impose something for the sake of it. Apparently they think they is important.

Mistakes.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42273217)

I'm in Canada, we use 911 here.

At work we get a lot of accidental outbound 911 calls. We think it's because you have to dial 9 to get out of the building, then 1-905 to call the local area code, so it's easy for people to misdial with all those 9's and 1's, particularily if they don't realize they are on a direct line where you don't have to dial 9 first. Or maybe it's just disgruntled employees, who knows.

GSM allows 5 emergency call codes (3, Informative)

kybred (795293) | about 2 years ago | (#42273237)

Per the 3GPP specs for GSM, the SIM has an item for Emergency Call Codes (EFecc) that can contain up to 5 call codes, each up to 3 digits. If any of these codes is dialed the phone will put the call through as an emergency call. This is to allow for localization of the emergency numbers. Since in a mobile, you enter the entire number to be called then hit SEND (or the equivalent), the switch doesn't have to decide how to route your call as you are dialing it, like is done for landlines.

I think the mobile phones are the easy part, the hard part will be the 'other devices' which presumably will include landlines.

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