Will Ford’s emergency assistance with SYNC on the EcoSport really work in India?

We’ve got to hand it to Ford for taking safety features a step forward with SYNC and its emergency assist feature on the Ford EcoSport. This emergency assist function of Ford’s infotainment system “Sync” can be a life-saver in an emergency. That is, if India is ready for this.

Sync is a Bluetooth-enabled, voice command based connectivity system developed by Microsoft for Ford and has many smart features enabled in the full version, although in India, its utility is limited. The Ford EcoSport in India will feature only the phone calling and music streaming functionality, where SYNC can take voice commands to place a call or play any particular music, by recognizing names of tracks and artists. See full version: Ford EcoSport to feature SYNC

How SYNC’s “Emergency Assist” works

But besides that, the one big life-saving feature it has is “Emergency Assist”. This feature is activated only when the vehicle meets with an accident and the airbags are deployed or the emergency fuel-pump shut-off is activated – both scenarios that happen when the accident is reasonably severe like a head-on crash or a roll-over. (The Ford EcoSport Titanium Plus variant has six airbags). Also see: Ford EcoSport official photo gallery

Immediately after a crash the system places a call to “108”, which is an emergency response service number started in 2005 in India. It will place the call within 10 seconds of a crash occurring if any of the car occupants’ Bluetooth-enabled phone is paired with the system. The user can cancel the call within these 10 seconds in case he/she does not want to call emergency services.

Once the call is placed, a pre-recorded message informs the control room that a Ford vehicle has been involved in an accident and then sends the exact GPS coordinates (latitude / longitude) of the vehicle so that an ambulance can be sent out. Once it has delivered that information it will also allow vehicle occupants to talk to the emergency services operator.

Why it won’t work everywhere

Now here’s the problem. The 108 toll-free helpline to emergency services is right now available only in 17 states in India. This includes Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Goa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Karnataka, Orissa, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya. Other states are yet to get this helpline number that is managed by Emergency Management Research Institute (EMRI), which manages a fleet of fully equipped ambulances in all these states.

As long as you are driving your EcoSport in any of these states the system will respond effectively in case you have an accident. But if you aren’t within a state that offers this service or if you don’t have a Bluetooth-enabled phone paired with the system at the time of the accident, it won’t function. It’s better to always have your phone paired with the system (it needs to be paired just once, and it can pair multiple phones too).

So while the Ford EcoSport is ready to offer this Emergency Service for the entire lifetime of the vehicle without any charge, the Indian state infrastructure needs to keep pace with changing times and changing technology.

The Ford EcoSport can attempt to save your life in an emergency, but will the emergency service be able to respond?

Also read: Ford EcoSport road test and review: Sure-shot winner