Apple iOS Fix for Emergency Calls Highlights Nation's Dated 911 System

Apple iOS Fix for Emergency Calls Highlights Nation's Dated 911 System

Apple iOS Fix for Emergency Calls Highlights Nation's Dated 911 System

This new location-sharing would allow 911 centers to find callers location faster and with much greater accuracy than they can under the current system - and finally brings US users up to speed with those in Europe. But outdated systems make it hard for emergency call centres to pinpoint a mobile user's location, Apple said.

With iOS 12, Apple is advancing its Hybridized Emergency Location (HELO) technology to help reduce emergency response times. The entire process is automatic and secure, and it's based on Apple technology that has existed for a few years now. It will see the location of US iPhone users shared with dispatch responders during 911 calls.

iPhones also have an emergency SOS feature, which automatically calls emergency services and texts any emergency contacts your location.

"User data is only available during the emergency call to the responding 911 center and not for any non-emergency goal", said Apple's Rob Mayor.

The US-specific feature builds on technology released by the company in 2015, called HELO (Hybridised Emergency Location), which allows phones to pinpoint their location using a combination of Wi-Fi and Global Positioning System.

Besides upgrading to iOS 12, users won't need to do anything to use the feature.

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. The good news is that it will only do so in emergency situations such as during a 911 call.

Google also has its own version of the technology, called Android Emergency Location Services (ELS), available on more recent Android phones.

In 2015, the FCC created a mandate that requires major carriers to provide accurate location data for 80 per cent of emergency service calls by 2021.

RapidSOS receives the secure location data from Apple, then passes the data to the call centers receiving the call, said Reinhard Ekl, vice president of public safety at RapidSOS.

The case could impact the multibillion-dollar app ecosystem, and efforts by companies like Apple to establish a so-called "walled garden" for software on their devices.

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