Apple has announced that iPhone users in the United States who make 911 calls will be able to “automatically and securely” share their location data with first responders later this year. The firm said that the new feature will provide faster and more accurate information to help reduce the response times of emergency services.
Apple actually introduced its Hybridized Emergency Location (HELO) feature, which finds the caller’s location using cell towers and on-device data sources like GPS and WiFi Access Points, back in 2015. With today’s announcement, Apple is announcing that it will also use RapidSOS’s data pipeline to quickly and securely share your HELO data with 911 centres allowing for a faster response.
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook said:
“Communities rely on 911 centers in an emergency, and we believe they should have the best available technology at their disposal. When every moment counts, these tools will help first responders reach our customers when they most need assistance.”
Commenting on the development, RapidSOS CEO, Michael Martin, said:
“911 telecommunicators do extraordinary work managing millions of emergencies with little more than a voice connection. 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.”
The FCC has stated that in 2021, carriers will be required to locate callers to within 50 metres at least 80% of the time - with Apple implementing this feature in iOS 12, Apple customers will see the benefits years before the rest of the country.