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Frequently Asked Questions
These are some of the most commonly asked questions about Emergency Assistance. They’re based on operators’ experiences of handling real calls and feedback from emergency professionals, so they’ll provide you with relevant, practical and useful information.
What is SYNC®?

SYNC® is a fully-integrated, in-car communications and entertainment system that gives drivers hands-free voice-activated control over their mobile phones and digital music players. After an initial one time setup, SYNC® is designed to connect to a driver's paired phone at vehicle start for hands-free communication over the vehicle's in-car microphone and sound system when requested.   SYNC® is a multi-lingual platform and is designed communicate and take commands from user in a variety of languages appropriate for the market(s) for which a vehicle is sold. 
What is Emergency Assistance?

Emergency Assistance is a SYNC® software feature that uses a vehicle occupant's Bluetooth® paired and connected mobile phone to dial 112 in the event of a vehicle crash with an airbag deployment, or when the fuel pump shut-off is triggered (can be caused by a rear collision). Emergency Assistance will select the most appropriate language based on the location of the accident to provide information to an Emergency Call Taker.

How does Emergency Assistance Work?

SYNC® Emergency Assistance can help vehicle occupants in a crash by placing an assisted call directly to 112.  In the event of airbag deployment or the activation of the fuel pump shut-off (which can be triggered in rear collisions), SYNC® speaks to vehicle occupants in their pre-selected language and tells them that an assisted emergency call will be made. It also gives instructions on how to cancel the call. SYNC® will wait approximately ten seconds and if the occupants do not cancel the call, SYNC® will place an emergency call to 112 via a connected Bluetooth® mobile phone. The call is a standard wireless call directly to 112. Once connected, SYNC® will alert the Emergency Call Taker that a vehicle crash has occurred and provide location information about the incident via voice. The emergency message is spoken in a language most appropriate for the recipients of the call as determined by the location of the incident. After delivering critical information SYNC® opens the line and offers hands-free voice communication between the Call Taker and the vehicle occupants. The 112 Call Taker can evaluate the situation and provide assistance as needed.

What is unique about SYNC® Emergency Assistance?

SYNC® Emergency Assistance can help vehicle occupants by placing a hands-free wireless call over their personal mobile phone, contacting 112 directly and contacting the most appropriate Public Safety Answering Point without the delay of going through a third party call center. SYNC® Emergency Assistance is truly unique in its communication provided by SYNC®'s powerful voice capabilities. Emergency Assistance not only communicates to the vehicle occupants in their pre-selected language it also determines the best (sometimes different) language to communicate the emergency information to the Call Taker. This powerful capability can perform a critical translation service for those in need and may even speak on the behalf of the unconscious or deaf.

When will Communication centers start to receive calls from SYNC® equipped vehicles?

Expect the population of Emergency Assistance equipped vehicles to grow after its release in late 2012 increasing the likelihood of Emergency Assistance calls over time.
 
Does Emergency Assistance come with a manual "SOS" button?
 
No, not at this time. We feel this would lead to unwanted, burdensome "test" calls to the emergency services. We have developed the system in such a way that false calls are kept to a minimum. The user can of course manually place a 112 call by simply pressing the SYNC® button and saying "Call 112".

Is SYNC/Emergency Assistance compatible with all mobile phones?

SYNC® offers hands-free phone connectivity via a Bluetooth® connection. The overwhelming majority of mobile phone handsets sold in Europe today have Bluetooth® capability.

What has Ford Motor Company done to ensure that Emergency Assistance feature is appropriate, will not burden PSAPs and other emergency services, and will improve public safety?

Ford Motor Company has and will continue to work with public safety organizations throughout Europe so that Emergency Assistance meets the needs of Public Safety Answering Points and the general public. So far, this has included receiving input on current and future system features, and the design inputs and system interactions to make Emergency Assistance convenient and useful to PSAPs. Ford has also prepared this educational website for the benefit of Call Takers in multiple languages. Combined with the system precautions to prevent unattended activation, Ford is confident that Emergency Assistance will only activate when vehicle occupants are genuinely in need of police or emergency assistance and that the communications will be intuitive and timely to PSAPs.

If it's a bad enough crash, can the system be damaged or disabled?

Vehicle accidents are extremely unpredictable events. For the system to operate the vehicle's electrical system (including the battery), the wireless service provider's signal, and a paired mobile phone all must be available. The mobile phone needs to be on and operational with the ability to place and maintain a call, Bluetooth®-enabled, paired and connected with the SYNC® system and within range or near the vehicle after it comes to rest. Depending on the severity of the accident, the occupant's mobile phone or the vehicle's systems could be damaged to such an extent that Emergency Assistance would not be able to initiate or maintain a call to 112. In the event that the mobile phone is operational and Emergency Assistance is unable to initiate a call, occupants may still be able to call 112 directly using any available wireless phone. If SYNC® is disconnected it will not interfere with an occupant's ability to use a mobile phone to make a call, just like when using SYNC®'s regular mobile phone calling feature.

How is Emergency Assistance different from an embedded system? Is there a higher chance that embedded systems will “survive” a crash?

Emergency Assistance utilizes the customer's personal mobile phone to make the Emergency Call as opposed to a cellular device embedded within the vehicle. Competitive systems have their own varied and unique system limitations and all systems are dependent on select components functioning after a crash. In regards to Emergency Assistance, Ford solves one of the largest "failure" modes of embedded systems – lapsing subscription fees. Ford provides Emergency Assistance complimentary for the life of the vehicle. Ford takes great care to design robustness into the system when possible. One example of this - if a mobile phone connected just prior to a crash becomes disconnected from SYNC® the system will try and re-connect the phone. If a phone remains unavailable SYNC® will then attempt to connect to and place a call using one of the other vehicle occupants mobile phones (providing they have been previously paired to the vehicle).  One of the advantages of being a mobile phone based system is that an individual can leave the vehicle with their mobile phone and remain on the line with the Emergency Call Taker without interruption.
How is this different from any other wireless emergency call?

SYNC® Emergency Assistance offers additional information that a crash has occurred and vehicle GPS position in an introductory message before hands-free communication. In terms of routing and the network, a call received by a PSAP is no different from a traditional wireless call, therefore, a Call Taker will have the same tools they normally have available to them in order to determine the caller's location and call back number.

What makes assisted technology such as Emergency Assistance different from an auto-dialer device?

Emergency Assistance is a feature that assists the occupants in placing a call to 112 and provides a 10 second window for occupants to make a decision to cancel the call before it is placed.   Emergency Assistance is installed with a defaulted "OFF" setting at the factory. The feature must be set "ON" voluntary by the user of the primary phone paired with SYNC®. As any vehicle occupant has the ability to cancel the call before it is initiated, the emergency call will either be the deliberate decision of an occupant after a crash or the deliberate decision of an incapacitated occupant made before the accident and their incapacitation.

Is there a potential for unintended activation, placing an unwanted emergency call to 112?

The system can only by triggered when the vehicle is powered on and the customer's personal mobile phone is available and a qualified crash event occurs, so there is little chance that a call can be placed from an unattended vehicle. Ford exercises great care in designing airbag and fuel pump shut-off calibrations to prevent unintended activation. These systems are among the most reliable of any system in Ford Motor Company vehicles. Moreover, the feature is defaulted to "OFF" from the factory so there is no possibility of a call until a customer takes possession of the vehicle, enables the feature and meets the crash conditions necessary to trigger the need for Emergency Assistance. Finally, prior to a 112 call the vehicle occupant has the option to cancel the call or allow it to be placed during the 10 second window. Ford believes confidently that Emergency Assistance will provide a significant safety benefit without burdening Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs).

If vehicle occupants have more than one previously paired phone in the vehicle, could there be multiple Emergency Assistance calls to 112?

No. The Emergency Assistance service will attempt to place the 112 call using whichever paired mobile phone is currently connected to SYNC® via Bluetooth®. If that phone is not available or cannot make a connection SYNC® will attempt to connect with another previously paired phone. SYNC® can only be connected to one phone at a time and only attempts to call 112 after the connection is made.
How does SYNC® determine the language used in the delivery of the emergency information?

SYNC® Emergency Assistance will use the vehicle’s onboard GPS module along with map data and cell tower information from the user’s phone to identify exactly where in Europe the accident has taken place. From the location determination SYNC® will select the best on-board language available for delivering the introductory message.

Does SYNC® interact with vehicle occupants and Call Takers in the same language? 

Not necessarily. SYNC® contains a select number of complete language packs for interacting with vehicle users on a day to day basis and also contains a much broader language pack available for creating emergency messages. It is possible for a person to traveling abroad for SYNC® Emergency Assistance to deliver an introductory emergency message in a foreign language.

What happens when the accident is located very close to an international border?

SYNC® Emergency Assistance will use the vehicle’s onboard GPS module along with map data and cell tower information from the user’s phone to identify exactly where in Europe the accident has taken place and will determine the most appropriate language to use even in near boarder situations. Ultimately, the phone network determines where to route the 112 call.
Does Ford support the eCall initiative that mandates the roll-out of E112 capable systems in vehicles?

Ford supports the eCall initiative led by the European Commission. It is a positive tool to bring rapid assistance to motorists involved in a collision anywhere in the European Union. In this respect Ford, as a member of ACEA (the European Association of Automotive Manufacturers) signed the European Commission's eCall memorandum of understanding in 2004. Since then we have been fully involved in the eCall debate in Europe.

Unfortunately, the infrastructure is not yet in place to handle the minimum set of data intended to be delivered with eCalls. Therefore, we believe SYNC® Emergency Assistance is the perfect technology to bring assistance to a large number of road users today. Since the data SYNC® delivers is provided via voice it requires no system upgrades at the Public Safety Answering Points.

What is eCall and is Emergency Assistance Ford’s Version of it?

eCall builds on E112 and is an initiative led by the European Commission. It is intended to bring rapid assistance to motorists involved in a collision anywhere in the European Union. The project aims to employ hardware installed in the vehicle that will wirelessly send a minimum set of data, including GPS coordinates to local emergency agencies. However the requirements have not yet been fully agreed and the infrastructure is not currently in place to handle this type of eCall. In order for Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) to receive data from such a system they would need technological upgrades.

SYNC® Emergency Assistance uses the same principal as eCall in that it dials 112 directly without the need for third party call centers or required upgrades by the existing emergency infrastructure. SYNC Emergency Assistance will deliver critical information such as notifying that a vehicle crash has occurred and transmitting the precise GPS coordinates. The slight difference between the two is that SYNC Emergency Assistance would be compatible with the majority of Public Safety Answering Points in Europe today alleviating costly infrastructure upgrades.

SYNC® is a flexible platform and potentially upgradeable to meet future eCall requirements once they are decided. As a platform SYNC® is already capable of delivering data packets from the vehicle via the mobile phone. Since a minimum set of data is one of the proposed requirements of eCall we know that SYNC® has the capability to meet data delivery needs beyond the human voice.

Can Emergency Assistance operate directly alongside Pan-European eCall?

Yes, it is expected to operate as long as 112 calls are accepted. Emergency Assistance does not rely on specific PSAP technology and therefore will continue to function even if eCall becomes available. The flexible capabilities of the SYNC® platform may also make it possible for Ford customers to upgrade the Emergency Assistance feature to accommodate future requirements associated with eCall.