Please briefly describe the initiative, what issue or challenge it aims to address and specify its objectives. (300 words maximum)
The purpose of integrating Korea’s emergency call numbers was to ensure that citizens can easily report emergency situations in times of need and enable emergency response institutions to better protect the lives and safety of citizens through timely response.
The sinking of the Sewol ferry in April 2014 was a major accident that resulted in 304 casualties. The first call for help was made to 119 because the caller did not know the number for marine accidents (122). The “golden time” was lost while the caller was redirected to 122, which resulted in the complicated emergency call system being point to as a primary cause of the large loss of human life in this accident.
This led the Korean government to realize the need to simplify the emergency call system and begin the process of integrating the phone numbers. Collection of citizen feedback on the integration of the country’s approximately 20 emergency phone numbers and a survey on public awareness of the numbers showed that 98 percent of citizens knew the phone numbers for reporting criminal incidents(112) and situations requiring fire/rescue services(119). Non-emergency civil complaints were integrated into 110.
A data-linking system was established among emergency response institutions to ensure timely response through the sharing/transfer of data on calls. Currently, 42 situation rooms of police, fire, and Coast Guard authorities throughout Korea are linked to one another to enable joint responses to a wide range of emergencies.
Through the IECS, citizens can quickly, accurately, and conveniently report an accident or emergency, and emergency response institutions can respond more quickly and efficiently. A performance analysis shows that the time from the initial call until dispatch order was 466 seconds in 2016, before the IECS. As of December 2019, this figure was 241 seconds, 225 seconds shorter than in 2016.
Please explain how the initiative is linked to the selected category. (100 words maximum)
The IECS is related to Goal 4 (Institutional Preparedness and Response in Times of Crisis).
The Sewol ferry sinking of 2014, which shocked and saddened all citizens, made people reconsider Korean society’s basic responsibilities for safety and realize the necessity of creating a national system capable of responding effectively to crises.
In response to citizens’ demands to improve the emergency reporting system, the Korean government immediately drew up a plan to integrate the country’s emergency call numbers. Through cooperation with emergency response institutions, the government established legal grounds for the establishment of a streamlined reporting/response system and supporting data system.
a. Please specify which SDGs and target(s) the initiative supports and describe concretely how the initiative has contributed to their implementation. (200 words maximum)
The IECS is related to three of the UN SDGs: Goal 3 (Good Health and Well Being), Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), and Goal 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions).
All citizens have the right to be safe, and it is the responsibility of any government to protect the lives and property of its citizens. To easily report an accident/emergency and quickly receive safety-related services from the government, citizens only need to remember one of two phone numbers (119 or 112), regardless of the accident/emergency type.
The simplification of the emergency call system is especially important because it makes it easy for socially vulnerable citizens (children, seniors, foreign laborers, etc.) to receive safety services. In this way, the IECS helps create safe and sustainable cities/communities and ultimately strengthen citizens’ faith in the government to protect them in a disaster situation, which will lead to the creation of a peaceful and accommodating society.
Each year, a national satisfaction survey is conducted on the IECS to ensure its sustainability. There is also a consultative body that includes emergency response institutions and works to improve members’ understanding of one another’s tasks and enhance services.
b. Please describe what makes the initiative sustainable in social, economic and environmental terms. (100 words maximum)
A study* showed that reducing the time it takes to provide basic life support (BLS) increases a patient’s likelihood of survival. When it takes 4 minutes 38 seconds from reporting until dispatch order, the patient’s survival rate is 76 percent (for cardiac arrest).
* Analysis by SNU on CPR performed outside medical institutions (2017)
Having increased the survival rate from 65.3% (466 seconds) to 77.1% in 2019, the IECS has had a significant effect.
If an AI/big data-based system can be developed, the response time can be reduced to 206 seconds, achieving a survival rate as high as 78.2 percent.
a. Please explain how the initiative has addressed a significant shortfall in governance, public administration or public service within the context of a given country or region. (200 words maximum)
The existing emergency call system was supplier-centric and did not consider the needs of citizens.
The phone numbers operated per institution were not separated into emergency and non-emergency lines, and institution-based operation meant many overlapping functions. To receive the required services, citizens needed to know the right phone number, causing confusion because of the complicated phone number system. The existence of multiple numbers meant that precious time was wasted in urgent situations.
The Sewol ferry incident was largely caused by this situation: the initial caller calling 119 because he/she did not know which number to call for a marine accident (122) wasted a lot of time because the call had to be redirected to 122, resulting in many deaths.
This preventable tragedy uncovered many lurking problems with Korea’s emergency call system. In response, the emergency phone number system was consolidated and simplified to make it easy for citizens to use and designed so that no matter which number is called, emergency response can be conducted quickly.
The IECS is also significant because citizens were involved in its creation, with citizens providing feedback and the government designing and implementing a policy reflecting such feedback.
b. Please describe how your initiative addresses gender inequality in the country context. (100 words maximum)
Korea has a women’s hotline(1366) for emergency rescue/protection and consultation on issues such as human rights protection. However, only 7.6 percent of citizens know this number. Another problem was that even citizens who called this number in an emergency were redirected to the police (112) or fire authorities (119), causing critical delays.
The IECS guarantees emergency care to anyone who calls 112 or 119. Callers who do not know the number for professional help on matters such as family violence (1366) simply need to call 110, which offers immediate help or can connect the caller to the relevant authorities.
c. Please describe who the target group(s) were, and explain how the initiative improved outcomes for these target groups. (200 words maximum)
The targets of the IECS are Korean citizens and foreigners residing in Korea, with the KNPA, NFA, and KCG being the primary responding institutions.
Previously, the emergency call system was compartmentalized according to accident type and institution. Most citizens did not know all of the phone numbers, which caused confusion and delays that prevented the timely provision of safety services.
Also, the response of emergency response institutions was limited by the method in which they cooperated (phone call). The two most well-known emergency numbers, 112 and 119, were often called for both emergencies and civil complaints and inquiries, meaning that truly urgent calls for help could be dropped.
Now, citizens have to remember only three numbers: 112, 119 (for emergencies), and 110 (for non-emergency civil complaints). This makes it easier and faster to report an emergency no matter which number is called because emergency responders share the information, allowing quick and efficient responses.
Compared to before the IECS, the time taken from accepting the initial call until the dispatch order is given has decreased by 52 percent (486→241 seconds).
By transferring non-emergency calls to a different number (110), 112 and 119 are fully dedicated to addressing emergency situations.
a. Please describe how the initiative was implemented including key developments and steps, monitoring and evaluation activities, and the chronology. (300 words)
The Sewol ferry accident made many citizens aware of the need for a national safety network that can respond quickly various accidents.
One of the most crucial areas to be addressed was the complicated emergency call system, which was streamlined into a much simpler system (IECS). Collection of citizen feedback on the integration of the country’s approximately 20 emergency phone numbers, a survey on public awareness of the numbers, and a study on integration strategies (August to December 2014) resulted in the decision to integrate the emergency call numbers into 112 (crime) and 119 (fire/emergency), the two phone numbers that 98 percent of citizens knew by heart, and all non-emergency civil service calls into 110.
This plan was confirmed in January 2015 through a safety policy mediation committee meeting, after which implementation began immediately. Discussions began in earnest on not only phone number integration but also an integrated call-receiving system that uses ICT to guarantee call processing regardless of the number called and a rapid joint response system.
The Ministry of the Interior and Safety (MOIS) created and operated an IECS task force with relevant institutions (KNPA, NFA, KCG, and ACRC). It also created an inter-institutional cooperation system that conducted projects for the staged implementation of the IECS (e.g. study on methods for integrating emergency call numbers and creation of an information strategy plan).
From April through September 2015, a BPR/ISP was created for the IECS to develop a concrete implementation plan. The IECS began being put into place in January 2016 (ending in October).
In July 2016, the IECS was operated on a trial basis in three regions, after which it was expanded nationwide. Once outcomes of the trial operation showed that everything was working smoothly, the IECS was officially opened to the public on October 28, 2016.
b. Please clearly explain the obstacles encountered and how they were overcome. (100 words)
There were many difficulties in integrating the phone numbers of over 20 institutions and coordinating the differing opinions on the new system.
A survey was conducted on citizens’ opinions on integrating emergency phone numbers and how well they know each number. The survey results showed that 98 percent of citizens were familiar with 112 and 119, with less than 20 percent being aware of the others.
Based on this outcome, the decision was made to consolidate the emergency phone numbers into 112 and 119 for citizen convenience. Implementation was based on final decisions made by the Safety Policy Mediation Committee.
a. Please explain in what ways the initiative is innovative in the context of your country or region. (100 words maximum)
The MOIS-affiliated Emergency Report Joint Management Center (ERJMC) was created to oversee inter-institution endeavors on the IECS and facilitate inter-institutional coordination and work processes. Its purpose is to manage all tasks related to safety and disaster management.
ERJMC branches operate a 24-hour situation room and monitor/address (in real-time) any malfunctions in the system of a particular institution and the quality of inter-organizational system connections. In the event of a sudden malfunction, calls can be accepted normally by being automatically redirected to the nearest ERJMC’s emergency call-taking system.
b. Please describe, if relevant, how the initiative drew inspiration from successful initiatives in other regions, countries and localities. (100 words maximum)
Many advanced countries have integrated their emergency phone numbers, based on the nature of their emergency call-receiving system.
The United States’ accepts all emergency calls through 911, with civil complaints directed to 311. England’s emergency call number is 999, with non-emergency civil complaints accepted by 101.
Germany uses 110 for crimes and 112 for disaster/emergency-related calls. It started benchmarking the United States’ 311 in 2007 and eventually integrated all civil complaints into 115.
Korea continues to refer to foreign examples. The IECS is closest to the German system, with just two numbers (112 for crimes and 119 for emergency rescues).
c. If emerging and frontier technologies were used, please state how these were integrated into the initiative and/or how the initiative embraced digital government. (100 words maximum)
The Korean government established an e-government system by converting its administrative tasks and services into online systems. Based on this, the IECS is quickly evolving into a sophisticated system centered on citizens and citizen services and emergency responses through inter-organization cooperation.
The IECS was begun to eliminate the many inconveniences of the previous emergency phone number system and guarantee the lives and safety of citizens during emergencies.
Toward this end, data owned by each institution (content of phone reports, dispatch-ready resources, etc.) was made easily shareable with other institutions, resulting in a noteworthy decrease in the joint emergency response time.
a. Has the initiative been transferred and/or adapted to other contexts (e.g. other cities, countries or regions) to your organization’s knowledge? If yes, please explain where and how. (200 words maximum)
b. If not yet transferred/adapted to other contexts, please describe the potential for transferability. (200 words maximum)
Most OECD countries, particularly EU members, are operating integrated emergency call systems. However, for the majority of developing countries that do not yet have such systems, the case of Korea’s government can be of help.
The IECS is not a system that unifies all emergency calls into a single phone number, as done in the US and England. Rather, it maintains the existing call-accepting and dispatch systems of the police (112) and fire authorities (119) while strengthening the connection between them.
After defining the data necessary for inter-institutional response, all such data was standardized so that it can be used by all institutions’ systems. A system was also designed for the sharing/transfer of call content among emergency response institutions to maximize the efficiency of joint responses.
The ERJMC’s monitoring system oversees the status of malfunctions at emergency situation rooms nationwide, with monitoring done on a 24-hour basis(checking network connections, etc.) to prevent even a single call from being dropped.
Korea’s integration of its emergency phone numbers can help developing countries that want to maintain their existing emergency response system and simply improve its functions. It is an especially helpful way of achieving systemic sophistication at a relatively low cost.
a. What specific resources (i.e. financial, human or others) were used to implement the initiative? (100 words maximum)
The IECS was implemented with funding for e-government support projects, which facilitate the implementation of key (e-government) initiatives. Projects are designated on an annual basis by the Korean government and given all necessary funding.
The IECS was constructed over a three-stage process from 2015 through 2018. A total of KRW 44.4 billion was invested to establish an interinstitutional connecting system and upgrade relevant equipment/systems.
An operational system was created to collectively oversee all joint endeavors. This system is based on situation rooms comprised of not only MOIS personnel but also employees from the police, fire authorities, and Coast Guard.
b. Please explain what makes the initiative sustainable over time, in financial and institutional terms. (100 words maximum)
Legal grounds were prepared in 2017 to add a clause about the integration/connection of emergency call numbers to the Framework Act on the Management of Disasters and Safety. To achieve this goal, phone numbers that are rarely used are being integrated to increase efficiency.
The systemic grounds for joint response to incidents by multiple emergency response institutions based on phone number integration are still weak. Rules on this area, which are in the process of being drawn up, are expected to strengthen the cooperative system among emergency response institutions.
a. Was the initiative formally evaluated either internally or externally?
b. Please describe how it was evaluated and by whom? (100 words maximum)
The policy assessment is conducted by 600 Korean citizens and 80 experts. Forty initiatives are designated from four areas (Economy, Education/Culture, Diplomacy/Security, Society/Welfare), with each initiative assessed by 2,000 citizens and approximately 200 experts.
“30 Government 3.0 Brands that the Korean People Love Most” (for 2017) assessed 670 examples of innovative government, with citizens voting on them via an exclusive website.
This assessment is conducted by the MOIS and includes an inspection of the project’s outcomes for the previous year with the aim of fortifying system operation and outcome management. Final scores are based on a screening of outcomes.
c. Please describe the indicators and tools used. (100 words maximum)
The major indices of the policy assessment are: the content of each policy, status of implementation, and influence of the policy on citizens’ lives, among others. Data submitted on each index are analyzed by experts and citizens.
The assessment of e-government support projects is based on indices in two areas: (management) appropriateness of budget allocation, project management, and system operation and (operational) user satisfaction, number of users, number of uses, and time required to connect with emergency response institutions.
d. What were the main findings of the evaluation (e.g. adequacy of resources mobilized for the initiative, quality of implementation and challenges faced, main outcomes, sustainability of the initiative, impacts) and how is this information being used to inform the initiative’s implementation? (200 words maximum)
The assessment of e-government support projects for the IECS in 2017 shows that, in terms of the degree of goal accomplishment, all indices were achieved satisfactorily (appropriateness of budget allocation, appropriateness of project management, etc.). Total performance was assessed as 105.44 percent.
The IECS’s initial goals (reduce call-receiving time and time required to share data, enable joint response, etc.) were judged to have been fully achieved. It was also assessed as having multiple anticipated effects, such as rapid processing through phone number consolidation and subsequent decrease in costs and increase in number of lives saved.
In terms of outside assessment, the handling of the Sokcho pleasure boat accident was named as a model example of the IECS (with the joint response system among emergency response institutions allowing fire and Coast Guard authorities to reach the site within seven minutes of the initial call and saving lives).
The results of all these assessments showed that the public’s awareness of the IECS was 68 percent (as of December 2019) (achieved through aggressive PR, etc.), showing an increase by approximately 30 percent compared to before systemic integration.
Please describe how the initiative is inscribed in the relevant institutional landscape (for example, how is it situated with respect to relevant government agencies, and how have these institutional relationships been operating). (200 words maximum)
The tasks required to create the IECS (drafting of laws, conducting of PR, securing of budget, creation of an integrated emergency call system, etc.) were spearheaded by the MOIS and jointly implemented with the NFA, KNPA, KCG, and ACRC.
The IECS’s legal grounds are Article 54-2 of the Framework Act on the Management of Disasters and Safety and Article 64-2 of the act’s enforcement decree (for the integration of special phone numbers for emergency rescue). Phone numbers that are rarely used are still being integrated for efficiency.
* Framework Act on the Management of Disasters and Safety(Article 54-2): For rapidly responding to any request for emergency rescue, the Minister of the Interior and Safety shall establish and operate a system which integrates and links special telephone number services related to emergency rescue prescribed by Presidential Decree.
The above law was used as the basis for the “Regulations on Operating and Managing Emergency Report Joint Management Centers.” The operation of a consultative body for the joint management of emergency calls (made up of MOIS and relevant administrative bodies) is permitted to negotiate joint tasks for emergency calls (creation of ERJMCs, deciding on direction of emergency call integration tasks, etc.).
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development puts emphasis on collaboration, engagement, partnerships, and inclusion. Please describe which stakeholders were engaged in designing, implementing and evaluating the initiative and how this engagement took place. (200 words maximum)
The primary implementer, the MOIS, worked with emergency response institutions (KNPA, NFA, and KCG) and the ACRC (for non-emergency civil complaints) from the earliest stages. All stages were carried out jointly.
The many tasks required to create the IECS (drafting of laws, conducting of PR, securing of budget, creation of an integrated emergency call system, etc.) were spearheaded by the MOIS (at the time, Ministry of Public Safety and Security) and jointly implemented with the NFA, KNPA, KCG, and ACRC through the “IECS Implementation Council.”
From the BPR/ISP stage, the MOIS worked with relevant institutions (joint workshops, 18 mediation meetings, etc.) to develop joint solutions for problems and potential concerns related to the integration process. Final decision-making was done by the Safety Policy Mediation Committee, a government-wide policy decision-making body.
Situation rooms were staffed with personnel from the KNPA, NFA, and KCG to conduct 24-hour monitoring.
Every quarter, stakeholders shared the IECS’ operational status with one another (Emergency Response Institution Joint Management Council, working-level meeting, etc.). There is also a consultative body that works together to provide new services and find areas that require improvement.
Please describe the key lessons learned, and how your organization plans to improve the initiative. (200 words maximum)
The most important aspect of emergency call response is securing the “golden time” through quick action. Thus far, the operation of the IECS has established the systemic and environmental basis for joint response by emergency response institutions, with the response time decreasing by 53 percent compared to before the IECS.
However, there are still differences in effectiveness based on the capabilities and experiences of the call-receiver. We are realizing that the expertise and experience of the call-taker is of utmost importance for not only simple, conventional cases but also complicated disasters that require a response that is both prompt and strategic.
A program was developed and implemented to improve call-receiving employees’ capabilities as well as joint response capabilities. Later, cutting-edge technologies (AI, big data, etc.) will be used to create an intelligent call-receiving system that is able to provide adequate support based on an assessment of the caller’s current situation.
A project will also be carried out that, based on a fortified emergency call-receiving system, aims to further consolidate the current dual-number system (112 and 119) into a single emergency phone number. In this way, efforts will continue being made to protect citizens’ lives and safety.