ITU Takes On ICE

About three years ago, Russell posted about the ICE phenomenon (and the ensuing hoax email). It’s pretty well known by now: ICE stands for In Case of Emergency, and the idea is to put the letters in front of a contact in your phone, so emergency workers know who to contact should you be in an accident.

The ITU, the global telecom standards body, has picked up on the idea, and mandated that instead of ICE, we should all use Arabic numerals starting with 01, then 02 and on down the line (so you’d have “01your wife’s name”, etc.). By using Arabic numerals, the ITU hopes to create a globally recognized method that’s useful in places that don’t use Roman script, or where ICE wouldn’t resonate as anything meaningful.

Sounds like a good idea, as it also carries the benefit that most phones will list contacts with numerals at the top of the list, making them easy to find. I’m just curious, though, to what degree public-safety people pay attention to this sort of stuff. The ICE idea was already well-established in many places, and I doubt too many first responders pay much attention to the ITU’s standards-setting work. So if you’re in a place like the US or UK where the ICE meme had gone around, what to do? Use one or the other, or both?

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