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NCC Role In Saving Telecom Consumer Lives During Emergencies

NCC Role In Saving Telecom Consumer Lives During Emergencies

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has built dozens of Emergency Communications Centres (ECCs) across the states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) which have become continually useful and central to saving lives, helping both the citizens and security agencies address insecurity issues such as indulgency, banditry, kidnappings, armed robberies and many more life-threatening issues.

The ECC are a one-stop-shop through which members of the public can access help from any response agency such as the Nigeria Police (NPF), the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the Fire and Ambulance Services, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and all its affiliate State Emergency Management Agencies, etc.

These ECC are having far-reaching impacts in enhancing the federal government’s drive to improve security of lives and property. The Commission say the National Emergency Number 112 which it instituted and superintends, is the most critical infrastructure necessary for the successful implementation of the National Emergency Medical Service and Ambulance Systems (NEMSAS)  launched by the Federal Ministry of Health.

The NEMSAS is established as a programme implementation unit in the Office of the Honourable Minister of Health. The project aims to establish an Information and Communication Technology-enabled emergency medical service that is effective, efficient, timely and in partnership with the private operators in the health sector. The objective of this new project is to increase access to healthcare, and to reduce mortality and morbidity rates in order to improve health care outcomes for all Nigerians.

By integrating disparate Emergency Medical Services (EMS) resources available in Nigeria, the scheme will coordinate the national roll-out of EMS, enabling services to be provided through relationship with other entities and organisations. In essence, NEMSAS will rely on many organizational partners to perform its EMS service delivery functions and the NCC’s 112 Emergency Number is going to drive the communication element of the project.

It suffices to reiterate that the overarching vision of MEMSAS is to ensure availability of an emergency medical service and ambulance system that provides quality, prompt, effective and accessible transport and treatment services at no cost at the point of care across the country.

The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, said the Commission was delighted to provide the technology platform that will link the NEMSAS partners with those who require emergency health services.

“The NCC has been at the forefront of deploying ICT to drive the implementation of various government projects and initiatives. The 112 number is at the heart of this initiative to provide a national number to Nigerians who are in need of health-related emergencies to be able to call Emergency Response Agencies (ERAs) or organisations in life-threatening situations”, Danbatta stated.

The CEO of NCC also expressed the “unwavering commitment of NCC to supporting NEMSAS’ implementation as well as similar governmental initiatives as part of the strategic programmes of improving Nigeria’s digital culture through policies instituted by our supervising Ministry, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy”.

Over the years, Nigerians in distress and life-threatening situations have used 112 emergency numbers to get succour from ERAs to ensure safety of lives and property. The role played by 112 Emergency Number particularly at the peak and vortex of Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria has been adjudged phenomenal.

There are over 24 Emergency Communication Centres (ECCs) in Nigeria that are operational across different states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The ECCs are built and operated through partnerships, by the NCC as points where distressed calls by citizens terminate, from where they are routed to the appropriated emergency response and security agencies that manage such.

The national chairman, Association of Licenced Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, said telecom operators value the lives of their consumers and it is a right step that the telecom regulator took the bold step to establish the ECCs, noting that the ECC would go a long way to help consumer reach emergency responders at the press of 112 on their phones.

ECC Facility

The executive vice-chairman/CEO, NCC, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, said each of the ECCs are equipped with the following facilities: eleven workstations (10 for call taking and one for the supervisor); a server system that receives and processes 112-calls from members of the public before the calls are dispatched to the appropriate response agency that has the responsibility to attend to the specific emergency; power supply mix consisting of the national grid, two units of 100 KVA generators, two units of 20kVA UPS and a 10KVa UPS; and the facility is also equipped with six dispatch workstations for the response agencies.

President Muhammadu Buhari, had early launched the Emergency Communications Centre, which activated the universal toll-free 112-number Service for Nigeria, in Abuja, through a virtual platform. This underscores the importance of the ECCs project as a veritable platform to enhance security of lives and property of Nigerians and the general public.

In all, the ECCs have been activated across states of the country, including the FCT – The States are FCT, Katsina, Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Ogun, Plateau, Enugu, Benue, Akwa-Ibom, Cross-River, Oyo, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Adamawa, Kogi, Anambra and Imo states, which is being commissioned today. Efforts are ongoing to activate the Emergency Communications Centre in the remaining states of the federation.

The executive vice-chairman/CEO, NCC, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta reiterated that members of the public do not have to memorise several 11-digit numbers from different response agencies, as has been the case before now – they simply have to dial 112 in times of distress/emergency to seek help.

“I wish to reiterate that the 112 Emergency Number is totally toll-free – even when you have zero credit on your phone, you can dial and gain access to the 112-Services,” Danbatta said.

The president, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Engr. Ike Nnamani who lauded the NCC for the ECC, urged it to further extend it to all the remaining states. “Our engagement with the government has led to social-economic benefits that creating robust telecom and ICT infrastructure in the various states so that the telecom users can have access to social and health amenities especially in emergencies,” he said.

During the total lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and even the present second wave, the ECCs played remarkable role by providing a platform for members of the public to seek lifesaving information or report COVID-19 related cases by dialling ‘112’ from any of the networks. Thousands of COVID-19-related calls were received and processed by the ECCs across Nigeria.

Danbatta noted that, “The ECC has transformed lives and helped many in handling emergencies and today. It is having positive impacts on lives, improving security and providing jobs for Nigerian youths.” He said other states are asking NCC to come and activate their ECCs and serious work is ongoing in that regard, “As we know that this important life-saving facility supports security architecture in the country for improving security in our nation.”

The ECC project had been in limbo until a new management under the leadership of Prof. Danbatta, embarked on the construction and operationalisation of the ECCs across states of Nigeria and the FCT in calculated bid to enhance President Muhammadu Buhari’s ongoing efforts at improving security situation in Nigeria.

Toll-free Line During Elections

Recently, the Commission also dedicated its Consumer Toll-Free Number 622, to serve as 2023 Presidential Election Incident Hotline to enable voters and members of the public across Nigeria to report any issues that may affect them, or others, during the elections.

This step is to support the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in its patriotic commitment, towards the conduct of hitch-free elections in Nigeria. The Toll-Free Number 622 is the second-level complaints centre through which consumers of telecommunications services are allowed to make calls directly to the Commission, to resolve issues concerning their telecommunications services which the service providers are unable to do.

In consideration of the critical nature of this election and to alleviate emergent issues that may arise at the voting centres, or any parts of Nigeria thereof, the Commission dedicated the Toll-Free Number 622 to accommodate all types of complaints on election day.

This is with a view to resolving such issues by contacting and conveying such to relevant agencies, authorities, or organisations for timely resolution. The 622     Presidential Election Incident Monitoring Centre was manned by top management officials of the Commission. The hotline was opened to the public from 8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. during the Presidential and National Assembly elections.(leadership.ng)

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