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Emergency Incident Data Set Recommendation

Comcare Member Working Group Announces Draft Vehicular Emergency Incident Data Set

Washington, DC, USA. October 17, 2002.

The ComCARE Alliance Automatic Crash Notification (ACN) Data Set Working Group today announced the completion of a draft vehicular emergency incident data set recommendation in eXtensible Markup Language (XML). XML, an open, non-proprietary standard, is the most widely accepted format for exchanging structured data between different computer systems in the world today. Once implemented by users, the data set will enable efficient, national electronic transmission of crash and other emergency information from telematics service providers, as well as other data from emergency response agency and private sources related to vehicular emergencies.

The ComCARE Working Group will now present the data set to numerous other safety and medical organizations, government, companies, and standards development organizations that may be interested in the topic. The Working Group plans to work with these groups to get their input and endorsement of the data set and begin discussing implementation.

The first use of the data set is in the Northern Shenandoah Valley ITS Public Safety Initiative, a project sponsored by Virginia"s Department of Transportation. Late last fall the leading telematics service providers, OnStar and ATX, pledged their cooperation with the Initiative, and the data set effort was launched, with VDOT providing support for ComCARE"s work in facilitating the effort. Some companies are already using earlier versions of the data set to simulate emergency incident response as part of safety technology demonstrations.

"Companies will build the data set into the new information technology systems they will be trialing in our Initiative in the Shenandoah Valley," said Dr. Jack Potter, Director of Emergency Medical Services of Valley Health System of Winchester, Virginia, and a leader of the Initiative. "We will be seeing use of this data set very soon."

More than 20 organizations participated in the effort, including safety leaders of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Initiative, OnStar, ATX Technologies, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), the National Association of State EMS Directors, the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch (NAED), and others. The participation and leadership of OnStar and ATX represents more than 95 percent of the existing telematics market. Developing an ACN data standard was first recommended by the National Mayday Readiness Initiative (NMRI) in the fall of 2000.

"Knowing when and where a crash occurs, and its severity helps us send the right care, right away, and prepare to handle patients before they even arrive at the hospital. This data set is a key first step to getting the right information in the hands of the right people, faster. That will save lives," said Dr. Greg Mears, EMS Medical Director for the State of North Carolina, a board member of the National Association of State EMS Directors, and the Chair of the Medical Subcommittee of ComCARE"s Working Group.

"The introduction of electronic emergency incident data from telematics service providers and other private entities into the emergency response system will allow multiple responders to be notified, and be better informed, about emergency incidents in real-time," said Barb Thornburg, Chair of the National Emergency Number Association"s (NENA) Data Technical Committee, and Chair of the Working Group"s Incident Data Subcommittee. "ComCARE has brought together a broad group of public safety, medical and industry leaders to develop a recommended data set that will enable these systems to work best," Thornburg said. "Now I will be sharing the data set with the appropriate NENA technical and operations committees."

William Ball, Vice President of Public Policy of OnStar, said, "We were delighted with this collective effort by so many diverse organizations. We endorse it, and we intend to use this data set. With the progress being made in automatic crash notification technology today, such as General Motor"s Advanced ACN (AACN) system, it is critical now more than ever that we begin the process of designing systems to share incident data electronically with public safety and EMS agencies. An important first step is developing a consistent format for everyone to use." Jasmin Jijina of OnStar chaired the Working Group"s Vehicle Data Subcommittee.

"The challenge we face in figuring out a standard data set that can help accelerate and enhance emergency response is that so many different emergency response organizations and private groups need to be involved," said Gary Wallace, Vice President of External Affairs of ATX. "There is no traditional group which serves all these sectors. That has been the great value of ComCARE and this project. This document lays a great foundation upon which to build a broad consensus from the emergency response community."

Currently, when telematics service providers (TSPs), such as OnStar and ATX Technologies, receive data about an emergency from one of their customers" cars, they verbally relay the information to a public safety agency. TSPs, and emergency agencies such as 9-1-1, EMS systems, and hospitals currently do not electronically share incident data. The new draft vehicular emergency incident data set is the first step in a process to enable the electronic flow of emergency information from a TSP, such as ACN data, or a commercial vehicle operator, including hazmat information, to and among multiple public safety agencies, including 9-1-1 centers, other public safety entities, hospitals, transportation agencies and EMTs dispatched to the incident scene.

"Developing this data set is an important accomplishment," added Ball, "however, a lot of work still needs to be done before emergency incident data begins flowing to and among 9-1-1, EMS and other agencies across the country. We will continue to work with groups like ComCARE, NENA, the State EMS Directors and the National Association of EMS Physicians in a cooperative, collaborative process to determine how and what information to provide to the emergency response community," he added.

Detailed information on the draft vehicular emergency incident data set can be viewed on the ComCARE website at:

About ComCARE

ComCARE's mission is to improve emergency communications and response through public/private cooperation and new technologies. For more information, email at, or contact Patrick Halley at or (202) 429-0574.


Patrick Halley
Tel: +1 (202) 429-0574

Alan Kitey
ComCARE Alliance
Tel: +1 202.429.0574


Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive. See other references in the 2002-10-18 news item "ComCARE Alliance Publishes XML-Based Emergency Incident Data Set Recommendation."

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