COLOGNE, GERMANY - Ford announced it will provide vehicle drivers and passengers across Europe and nearby regions with a new Emergency Assistance feature as part of the SYNC package.

Emergency Assistance, developed as part of the SYNC system for Europe, will automatically inform emergency services in the event of an accident. SYNC technology becomes available to European Ford customers initially on the Focus model in 2012.

Emergency Assistance will be able to accurately determine the location of the vehicle using a combination of the onboard GPS unit, map database and information from the customer's mobile phone before making a call to emergency services. 

The system will ensure that emergency services are contacted with an introductory message communicating to the operator that a crash has occurred at a precise location in the correct language for the region.

"Emergency Assistance is a potentially life-saving technology that we will be offering to customers free of charge for the life of their Ford vehicle," said Ford CEO and President Alan Mulally. "It's another example of how we deliver real value to our customers through smart technology that leverages the connectivity they already pay for with their mobile device for our European customers."

Emergency Assistance will call the emergency operator directly with key information about the incident including GPS location, rather than losing time by first directing the call through a third-party call center. The Emergency Assistance feature will directly communicate with emergency services in double the number of European countries than any other emergency call service, as well as several countries outside of the EU, Ford said.

The feature will eliminate concerns drivers may have about not being able to call for assistance in the event of an accident because of language limitations or not knowing the emergency number for the accident location. 

Europe provided a challenge in developing such a system because of a high concentration of languages, borders and emergency services as well as the varying levels of technology present in emergency call centers across the continent. In response, Ford said it developed a system that communicates to the operator in the local language, while continuing to speak with the occupants in their preferred language. To ensure the system would work throughout European call centers, the system has been designed to pass along all critical information to the operator audibly.

During the development of the Emergency Assistance feature, Ford worked with the European Emergency Number Association. The EENA aims to ensure a consistently high level of response to 112 emergency number calls across Europe. Ford is currently validating the system with several emergency operator offices across the continent.

"We are pleased that Ford has consulted with the EENA and European emergency call centers in the development of the Emergency Assistance feature," said Gary Machado, executive director of the EENA. "We are confident that solutions enabling vehicles to be connected to emergency call centers will contribute to saving lives in Europe."