Apple's iOS 12 securely and automatically shares emergency location with 911

Doris Richards
June 22, 2018

Today, Apple said it will additionally use RapidSOS's Internet Protocol-based data pipeline to securely share this HELO location data with 911 centers, to improve the response times even further. Software and a data clearinghouse built by NY startup RapidSOS will let 911 centers receive callers' locations.

This firm is offering an app for use in iPhones, known as RapidSOS Haven, which the users can install and use it for sharing data related to a precise location in their current systems; hence support becomes automatic on their front.

Tom Wheeler, a former chairman for the Federal Communications Commission, believes Apple's new approach for locating 911 calls will set a new industry standard. HELO estimates a mobile 911 caller's location using cell towers and using data sources such as WiFi Access Points and Global Positioning System.

If it works as promised, Teresa Burns, a 911 telecommunications manager for the city, said the technology could save dispatchers crucial moments when deploying resources to an emergency. Almost 80 per cent of 911 calls come from mobile devices but outdated, landline-era infrastructure often makes it hard for 911 centres to quickly and accurately obtain a mobile caller's location. RapidSOS CEO Michael Martin said, "We are excited to work with Apple to provide first responders a new path for accurate, device-based caller location using transformative Next Generation 911 technology".

Apple is trying to solve a problem caused by the technological mismatch between a system built for landlines 50 years ago and today's increasingly sophisticated smartphones that make most emergency calls in the US.

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

Stringer said the 911 center in Paducah will be getting some major upgrades, including a new phone system next month and a new computerized dispatch system in about a year and a half. It will be turned on by default for all iOS 12 iPhone users in the USA, but Apple says it will add an opt-out option in settings. These help to counter the fact that every four out of five calls for emergency services come from mobile phones.

Google also has its own version of the technology, called Android Emergency Location Services (ELS), available on more recent Android phones. A company spokeswoman says that it's deployed in less than half of the United States.

"Answering the 911 call is different than receiving the location", said Paul Troxel, president of CalNena, a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of California emergency dispatchers.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

Discuss This Article