Ford Developers Turn Metro Detroit Into Europe to Test European Version of SYNC 911 Assist™

Mar 01, 2011, 03:00 ET from Ford Motor Company

DEARBORN, Mich., March 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --

  • The European version of Ford SYNC® will include a unique emergency assistance feature similar to the 911 Assist™ feature in the U.S., but that can communicate in appropriate languages to both driver and emergency operator based on geography coordinates

  • Ford developers in Dearborn, Mich., used GPS coordinates for locations in southeastern Michigan to re-create Europe and field test the multiple-language response and feedback needed for the Europe-only Emergency Assistance feature

  • Unique European execution of 911 Assist demonstrates flexibility of the SYNC platform as it launches globally

The flexibility of the Ford SYNC connectivity platform continues to demonstrate its technological prowess, allowing Ford engineers to use unique software solutions to develop the European version of the emergency assistance feature SYNC 911 Assist.  

While the features and benefits of 911 Assist and the European-market Emergency Assistance feature are nearly identical, the implementation of Emergency Assistance presented a series of challenges for Ford developers.  

Within Europe, for example, drivers often cross regional, not to mention, country borders where multiple languages and dialects are spoken from English, German, French, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Flemish and more. In addition, the European emergency services infrastructure is not as standardized as it is in the U.S., with varying levels of technology present in call centers.

"If a German customer drives into France and gets in an accident, we need Emergency Assistance to call the correct number and speak to the local emergency operator in French, but then speak to the driver and passengers in the vehicle in their native tongue, German," said Ed Pleet, Business Manager, Ford Connected Services.

Both the latest versions of 911 Assist and Emergency Assistance use GPS coordinates generated by the vehicle's onboard GPS receiver to determine the location of the vehicle before making a call to emergency services in the event of an accident.  

To test out the newly developed software behind Emergency Assistance's ability to determine the right country, region and language to speak, Pleet and his team decided to mimic European geography in Detroit using local GPS coordinates and roadways to map out a testing area.

Locations within the borders of major Detroit-area highways and byways quickly became Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Italy, for instance, lived within the borders of major freeways 1-96 and Southfield as well as Telegraph Road and Michigan Avenue. Spain was made up of locations falling within the borders of freeways I-275 and I-94, along with Telegraph Road and Michigan Avenue.  

"We could easily camp out on the simulated border of Germany and France, driving back and forth, and see if the software was accurately determining location and language," said Pleet.

After hundreds of hours of both computer-simulated and real-world road tests and crash events, the software was then sent to Europe where on-site testing continues with European call centers and their varying levels of technology.

"Creating the mini Europe here in Detroit allowed us to do both simulated and real-world testing in a fairly short amount of time and still deliver a robust product," said Pleet.  

Emergency Assistance will be the most advanced system of its type available, able to directly communicate with emergency services in double the number of European countries as any other automotive emergency call services.

Just like its North American counterpart, Emergency Assistance can provide vehicle drivers and passengers with a connection to local emergency services in the event of an accident. The service is a subscription-free, no-additional-cost feature that uses a customer's existing mobile phone to make the direct connection to an emergency operator.

About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F), a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 164,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford's products, please visit

Ford of Europe is responsible for producing, selling and servicing Ford brand vehicles in 51 individual markets and employs approximately 66,000 employees. In addition to Ford Motor Credit Company, Ford of Europe operations include Ford Customer Service Division and 22 manufacturing facilities, including joint ventures. The first Ford cars were shipped to Europe in 1903 – the same year Ford Motor Company was founded. European production started in 1911.

SOURCE Ford Motor Company