Smartphones no longer have a choice: they must be compatible with Galileo

A new rule applies to smartphones: Galileo compatibility. In fact, all recent phones support the European location service.

All smartphones sold in Europe must now be compatible with Galileo. This new duty comes into force this Thursday, March 17, thanks to an ordinance establishing additional requirements in terms of helping people. In short, it’s about finding a person calling an emergency number from a mobile phone faster.

This regulation dates from 2018 and actually updates the directive from 2014. More than three years later, this regulation comes into force. This significant shift has effectively given smartphone makers time to pick up speed, while also giving Galileo time to further expand the constellation of satellites placed in orbit around the Earth.

Because Galileo is like GPS: it’s a satellite geolocation service that offers a high degree of accuracy—on the order of a meter—around the world. The old project began to work effectively in 2016. Today there are about thirty satellites, the oldest of which will eventually be replaced by new generation satellites.

Satellites of Galileo. Artist’s impression // Source: OHB/ESA

This new regulation won’t cause problems in the vast majority of cases: Today, hundreds of smartphones already work with Galileo, and manufacturers have no reason to deprive themselves of this service, since it can pretty much work just as well, if not better, than GPS. This is a standard feature, not an option.

In fact, only very old or very basic phones will not be subject to the rules, but as time goes by, they become less and less commercially available. Smartphones are used by 7 to 8 people out of 10, and very few people use the same mobile phone for more than five years.

Make relief more effective

The European Union Agency for the Space Program highlights the benefits of intervening on behalf of those affected. ” Adding an EU positioning system to improve call location in 112 will speed up response times and therefore save more lives. “, the message says.

So far, these calls have already sent location information to emergency services. But, recalls the European agency, this information was not based on the capabilities of the global satellite navigation system. The change to 17 will now allow the caller’s location information to be sent from Galileo to the emergency services.

firefighters
Helping people requires support as quickly as possible to maximize the chances of being a victim. // Source: Guitguit

The difference in accuracy is phenomenal. Calling 112 (the European emergency number) previously used cell-tower-based identification technology (cell-ID) to determine the geolocation of the caller. However, its accuracy was very relative and ranged from 2 to 10 km.

This can lead to significant search errors due to emergency calls, which can result in loss of time and possibly loss of life. “, – noted then the European agency. When using a network such as Galileo, the accuracy increases to several meters. This has nothing to do and allows you to go directly to the right place.

Keep in mind that calls to the emergency services are subject to certain rules. For example, any call intended for an emergency service deserves the user’s consent until the result of the rescue operation that he initiates is revoked by the Code of Postal and Electronic Communications. This implicit green light is limited to strict intervention.

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