Apple Says Future iPhones Will Share Owner's Location When 911 Is Called

Apple Says Future iPhones Will Share Owner's Location When 911 Is Called

Apps such as Uber, "Pokemon Go" and Snapchat can pinpoint where users are down to the side of a block.

Emergency responders are sometimes dispatched a mile or more away from a caller's location.

In a press release Monday, the company outlined how iPhones running iOS 12 will be able to share location data automatically and securely with first responders when you dial 911.

“911 telecommunicators do extraordinary work managing millions of emergencies with little more than a voice connection, ” said RapidSOS CEO, Michael Martin.

"In the case of Apple, we receive the location information from Apple-it's really their location technology that comes to play", Ekl said. Wireless companies like AT&T and Verizon transmit the location of the cell tower closest to a caller with 911 calls, but that often isn't enough to go on, especially in a dense city like San Francisco.

"It obviously elevates our platform and makes it possible to reach a whole other audience and get it out to every 911 center in the country".

"Communities rely on 911 centers in an emergency, and we believe they should have the best available technology at their disposal", said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO. "Really, our core expertise is how to integrate new data sources and supplemental data with existing 911 systems".

A feature known as Hybridized Emergency Location is already being implemented by Apple, which enables in estimating the location of an iPhone caller for providing services during an emergency through the use of radios. Doing so should improve response times.

San Francisco has until very recently struggled with a more prosaic problem: getting the phone answered by a dispatcher promptly. Emergency professionals call this window the "golden hour". In fiscal years 2016 and 2017, only 74 percent of all calls were answered in 10 seconds.

While the crux of this new system is that Apple is automatically sharing location services, the company is stressing privacy as well, ensuring that the data collected is available to only one party and for a very specific objective.

San Francisco's call center will test a version of the system before committing to updating its software, Gornitsky said. However, getting locations is often hard - the nature of the incident, for instance, might mean the caller can not talk. They might be in medical distress, or unable to speak because it would put them in danger. Tom Wheeler said, "This is going to save a lot of lives".

The companies announced the feature June 18 at the National Emergency Number Association (NEMA) conference in Nashville.



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