in usability

international emergency (a case for standards)

Emergency
As you do, I was lying in bed the other night when the thought struck me that if I found myself in an emergency situation, if I really needed to get an ambulance to where I was as soon as possible – I had no idea what number I would need to call.
OK, so I moved countries recently, but I’ve been here almost 3 months now… and I’m sure I’ve never seen anything that told me what the emergency number was.
Funnily enough, my husband happened to witness a robbery in progress at work today and one of his co-workers called the emergency number. It turns out, in London, it’s 999.
In Australia, it is 000. As everyone in the world knows, in the USA, it’s 911.
Now, is it just me, or is this an example of where an international standard could *really* come in handy.
How hard would it be for everyone to agree on an emergency number that we used, like, everywhere?
Image credit: Good Experience
  1. In the UK, you can also use 112 (the European-wide standard, which is also in the GSM standard so will work from mobiles even in the US). My mobile unlocks itself for 999, 911, 112, and 08 – I’ve never found out where 08 is an emergency number! :)

  2. This was quite famous for being part of the British citizenship test. I thought that 911 did work, but investigating it seems its just 999 and 112.

  3. I’m in the UK, and I have no idea what happens if I dial 911. I would hope that it would get me through to the 999 line, but I’m not sure.

    To use an analogy from the world of domain names, it would be nice to have every common worldwide emergency number ’301 redirected’ to the primary emergency number for whatever location you are in.

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