IOS 12 Will Share Precise Location Details on 911 Calls

Doris Richards
June 18, 2018

Apple is teaming up with RapidSOS to include a new way to transfer location data to 911 call centers over the internet, building on the current system which was developed for landlines and uses older, phone-based data. The feature will share iPhone location data with 911 first responders later this year, enabling quicker discovery of imperiled people and reduced response times.

Efforts like HELO, Advanced Mobile Location in Europe, and now Next Generation 911 integration in iOS 12 are meant to combat the fact that roughly four out of five calls to emergency services come from mobile devices, Apple says, despite call centers relying on landline-era infrastructure.

With the newest software update for your iPhone and iPad this fall, Apple's partnership with the RapidSOS service will be embedded on a system level, and you won't need to download the adjacent app to send even more precise coordinates when you call 911.

"911 telecommunicators do extraordinary work managing millions of emergencies with little more than a voice connection", said RapidSOS CEO, Michael Martin. This will allow emergency services to locate callers in an instant without the caller having to provide any information over the phone.

In 2015, Apple launched HELO (Hybridized Emergency Location), which would estimate a caller's location using Global Positioning System and Wi-Fi Access points.

Though there are obvious privacy implications to the feature, as it can share location information with police and other first responders, its ability to save lives is unquestioned.

"Helping 911 services quickly and accurately assess caller location has been a major issue since my time at the FCC", said Dennis Patrick, FCC Chairman from 1987 to 1989. User location data can not be shared for non-emergency purposes, and only the 911 center will have access to the location during the call itself.

Apple's move to add AML support to iOS was sparked by an August 2017 open letter from the European Emergency Number Association (EENA), an organization representing over 1,300 emergency services representatives across 80 countries.

But the list of countries was short. "Lives will be saved thanks to this effort by Apple and RapidSOS".

Apple is beta-testing a new feature called "USB restricted mode" created to improve the security of their devices against all kinds of potential intruders.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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