Published: Tue, June 19, 2018
Industry | By Faith Ward

IOS 12 911 calls will share your location with first responders

IOS 12 911 calls will share your location with first responders

The hope here is that Apple jumpstarts a shift within the wireless industry that will allow emergency responders to automatically locate mobile callers in most - if not all - scenarios.

Apple says about 80 percent of 911 calls come from mobile devices, but outdated infrastructure makes it hard for 911 centers to locate a device's location. It uses cell-tower data, GPS, and Wi-Fi access points to estimate a mobile 911 caller's location. "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 says iOS location services are capable of exceeding that requirement today, even in "challenging, dense, urban environments".

Apple announced today the new feature - which will be USA -only at launch and available on iPhone 5 models and newer - would make it so that a caller's location will be automatically and even more precisely shared with first responders. It's another iOS 12 feature that the company is touting with ample privacy measures attached to it. So Apple was quick to note in its statement that your location data will be shared securely and the feature can not be used for non-emergency functions. The feature is built on RapidSOS' data pipeline system to instantaneously share location data with 911 centers.

Apple is trying to solve a potentially unsafe emergency response infrastructure problem.

"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.

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RapidSOS's technology integrates with existing software installed at many 911 centers, which is how they'll receive the data.

'When every moment counts, these tools will help first responders reach our customers when they most need assistance'.

Apple's iOS 12 (officially announced during the company's WWDC conference in early June) will likely launch in September, alongside the likely launch of Apple's new iPhones.

Tom Wheeler, former FCC Chairman from 2013 to 2017, said: "Lives will be saved thanks to this effort by Apple and RapidSOS".

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