01: ITU Gives Standard For Mobile Phone Emergency Numbers

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has agreed a global standard for storing next-of-kin information in the dialling directories of mobile phones.

The idea being that if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident, emergency workers will know who to get in touch with by looking through the contacts on your mobile phone.

Put it on ICE
You probably remember a few years back, there was a blizzard of email from friends and acquaintances encouraging you to put ICE in front of the names of your key contacts in your mobile phone, eg ICE Wife.

ICE stood for ‘In Case of Emergency.’

We always thought it was a pretty strange idea as most people have a ‘Home’ entry in their mobile, which would seem like the most obvious place to start.

With the publishing of ITU advice today, it’s clear that both us and the ICE were thinking far to narrowly. As we all travel around the world with out mobiles, it’s highly possible that Home or ICE don’t mean anything to those reading it, not least because the Roman script isn’t used the world over.

The solution – 01 for simplicity
The recommendation from the ITU is even simpler. Just put 01, 02, 03, etc in front of the names of the people to contact.

eg 01Wife; 02Father; 02Son, etc

The Arabic numerals are known globally and, as with many of these things, the simplest solution is the best.

Not only is it obvious which order to call people in, but the script that the name is written in is irrelevant, as the numbers show the order.

Quite how the spoken language barrier will be overcome once the person has been dialled isn’t clear.

01: ITU Gives Standard For Mobile Phone Emergency NumbersIn to standards
As with all standards bodies, this new scheme will be formally amalgamated into a recommendations, in this case, ‘ITU-T Recommendation E.123,’ which includes guidance of such fun things as “Notation for national and international telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and Web addresses.”

Official word
Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, summarised the ITU’s thought on it, “Emergency telecommunications is a top priority for ITU. This simple addition to a person’s next-of-kin or nominated contact details has the potential to greatly reduce stress for overworked emergency workers around the world.

“Anything that can be done to reduce the workload of these remarkably brave people and assist in getting injured people the right care and attention is commendable.”

Hurrah for simplicity. Grab your mobile and get editing.