Greece set to extend 112 emergency number nationwide

The European emergency phone number 112 will be fully operational in Greece by the end of 2019, Kyriakos Pierrakakis, the minister of digital governance, pledged on Thursday at an event organized here by the General Secretariat for Civil Protection.

The introduction of the 112 service has been repeatedly delayed in Greece, and “systemic failings” were identified in the aftermath of the summer 2018 wildfire in Mati, a seaside resort near Athens, which claimed 102 lives.

Greece suffers from deadly wildfires and devastating floods each summer — like the heavy storm that hit northern Greece in July this year, leaving seven dead — and public demand has been increasing for bringing this emergency service to the scene without further delay.

Authorities believe that Greece, as one of the world’s most popular tourism destinations, also needs to introduce all necessary measures to ensure the safety of travelers.

“Citizens’ security, safeguarding their property and environmental protection is a matter of life and death for all of us involved in the General Secretariat for Civil Protection,” said Nikos Hardalias, general secretary of Civil Protection.

“In a very complex environment and having to deal with a global crisis such as the climate crisis, we have undertaken a very difficult task: to make the citizens of this country feel safe again,” he said.

The system, he said, “will be able to inform citizens in highly targeted and specific areas if necessary. It can isolate the most remote and small areas across the territory and inform a specific number of citizens who face an extreme threat.”

“The system will be ready at the end of the year,” Pierrakakis said, adding that the Greek authorities have resolved important problems with the system, such as including the required software in all smartphone brands.

The line will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and will allow the immediate location of the caller.

According to a Eurobarometer survey, however, six to eight percent of Greeks do not even know that the 112 emergency number exists, let alone how to use it.