Published: Mon, June 18, 2018
Industry | By Dora Warner

This Critical 911 Feature in iOS 12 Could Save Your Life

This Critical 911 Feature in iOS 12 Could Save Your Life

Given Apple's firm stance on iPhone user privacy, the company stresses that user location data can not be used for any non-emergency objective, and only the 911 center will have access to the user's location during an emergency call.

"911 telecommunicators do extraordinary work managing millions of emergencies with little more than a voice connection", said RapidSOS CEO, Michael Martin.

Apple actually introduced its Hybridized Emergency Location (HELO) feature, which finds the caller's location using cell towers and on-device data sources like Global Positioning System and WiFi Access Points, back in 2015. Because it relies on modern location technologies, AML was said to be considerably more accurate in pinpointing an emergency victim's location than prior solutions and able to shave precious seconds or minutes off of response times.

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Thus, every time an iPhone user calls 911, advanced location pinning will be delivered faster to dispatch centers that are integrated with the RapidSOS NG911 Clearinghouse, and emergency services in 35 states have already done so.

Apple launched its HELO or Hybridized Emergency Location system in 2015 as part of its answer to this problem. The company expects this to increase to a majority of centers by the end of the year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Apple also noted the FCC is requiring mobile operators to locate callers within 50 meters at least 80 percent of the time by 2021. RapidSOS's system will increase the precision considerably, the companies said. 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.

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The existing system that is in use was originally designed for use with landlines in the 1960s and with around 80% of emergency calls apparently coming from mobile phones it is clear that a new system is required in order to potentially save lives.

Apple's iOS 11 includes a great SOS feature for when you feel unsafe in an emergency, but you may want to disable the feature on your iPhone or Apple Watch to avoid accidentally calling 911.

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