Apple to Provide More Precise Location Data for iPhone 911 Calls

Apple to Provide More Precise Location Data for iPhone 911 Calls

Apple to Provide More Precise Location Data for iPhone 911 Calls

Apple said user data won't be used for non-emergency reasons; further, only the responding call center will have access to user location during a call.

Though 80% of emergency calls come from mobile phones, according to Apple, landline-based infrastructure can make it hard for 911 centers to quickly identify a caller's location.

Apple is partnering with the firm RapidSOS on the iOS 12 feature, using its IP-based "data pipeline" to securely share HELO location data with 911 centers. It uses cell-tower data, GPS, and Wi-Fi access points to estimate a mobile 911 caller's location.

Notably, Apple says that user data provided by RapidSOS may exclusively be used for emergency purposes, and only the responding 911 center will have access to the user's location during the emergency call.

Apple Inc. said an upcoming software update for iPhones will include technology that more precisely locates 911 emergency calls, helping first responders more quickly find people in need of assistance.

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Given that 80 percent of 911 calls are now being placed on mobile devices, providing responders with as much information possible about a person's location is critical. Earlier this year, Apple added a similar technology called Advanced Mobile Location to the iPhone, mostly geared toward the European market. "This advancement from Apple and RapidSOS will be transformative for emergency response in the United States". He said that not all callers in an emergency situation are able to articulate their location due to medical distress or being in a situation where speaking could put them in danger. However, in iOS 12 this will be built right into the operating system itself. Android's phone app shares users' Global Positioning System location during emergency calls.

Individual call centers will each have to embrace the technology required to communicate with the RapidSOS clearinghouse.

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

Apple is set to launch the next major version of iOS later this year with new digital health features, ARKit 2, and more.

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