The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said it is reshaping the landscape of emergency response services through emergency communications centres (ECCs), to provide viable jobs for young Nigerians and ensure the availability of essential aid to the public.
Currently operational in 27 state capitals across the country, the ECCs can be reached via the toll-free number 112. These centres follow a design akin to the 911 Emergency Numbers found in developed countries. Their purpose is to swiftly assist individuals in emergencies, including fire outbreaks, robberies, violent attacks, domestic and road accidents, and health crises. By dialing the toll-free three-digit number, 112, individuals can instantly connect with response agencies. Presently, four additional centres are undergoing testing, scheduled to begin operations in September 2023, making the total number of centres 31. Furthermore, an additional set of four centres is expected to be operational by the end of the year.
Equipped with advanced technology platforms like computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems, the NCC empowers response agencies such as the police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Fire Service, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Ambulance Service and State Emergency Management Agencies (SEMAs) to effectively dispatch emergency calls through the national toll-free number, 112.
The easily memorisable three-digit code, 112, has been introduced to ensure citizens can quickly recall and report emergencies.
Agents stationed at the ECCs have undergone comprehensive training and are outfitted with state-of-the-art communication tools. These include digital radios, Internet-protocol (IP) systems, and geo-location technologies, enabling responders to swiftly identify incident locations and provide efficient rescue services. With agents operating in shifts, emergency services are available 24/7.
To enhance the operations of response agencies such as the police, who are continuously engaged in preventing, stopping, and addressing crimes, additional mobile communication devices have been provided. Some of these devices are installed in their offices, ensuring they promptly receive information from call agents at the ECCs. This measure also ensures that the top leadership of the police force can swiftly respond and take control during emergencies or incidents across the country.
The ECCs are not only playing a pivotal role in offering emergency communication services; they are also addressing socio-economic concerns by generating employment opportunities. Staffed with call agents, facility/IT staff and administrators, these centres offer competitive basic salaries set by the commission. This strategy aims to attract Nigerian youths and other professionals to these important roles.
The commission’s director of public affairs, Reuben Muoka conveyed that more than 1,200 individuals are currently employed across the 27 operational centers throughout the country. As the additional eight centres, currently at various stages of completion, become fully operational by 2024, they will create further job opportunities.
Furthermore, the ECCs are managed by indigenous Nigerian consultants who oversee both the facility and operational aspects of these centres.