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Better than ICE... Setting WW Standards for Emergency Contact Info

Fri Jul 25, 2008 - 8:05 AM EDT - By Annie Latham

The concept of ICE, short for In Case of Emergency, is a brilliant one considering the number of people who carry a cell phone. It is nice to know there is a way to speed dial an emergency contact should the need arise. Many carriers have made this a standard feature within the Contacts area of the phone.

This week, the U.N. International Telecommunication Union (ITU) took this concept a step further by proposing a standard way to indicate the emergency contact that would be understood globally and universally.

According to this AP story, the ITU, an impartial, international organization which helps coordinate the operation of telecommunication networks and services within government and the private sector, has proposed that people start the contacts in their phone address books with the Arabic numerals ("01," "02," and so on), which tend to be universally recognized.

For example, a dad's contact number would appear as "01father," with "father" substituted with the equivalent word in other languages. That way, firefighters, police and other emergency workers would know to look first under those numerals to find the next of kin and other key contacts.

Since people are just getting comfortable using the ICE approach, it may take a while for this proposed system to be adopted. Per the story, ITU said it would work with the nonprofit organization ICE4SAFETY to promote the alternative.

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