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Apple will automatically share your location when you call 911

Apple will automatically share your location when you call 911

Apple this morning announced a new feature in iOS 12 which will automatically share your location with first responders when USA users dial 911 using their iPhone.

The Chief Executive Officer of Apple Inc., Tim Cook stated that this service was the best technology that was now available anywhere and would help first responders reach their customers when they needed assistance the most. Further, he added, "When every moment counts, these tools will help first responders reach our customers when they most need assistance".

User data can not be used for any non-emergency goal - only the responding 911 center will have access to the user's location during an emergency call.

Apple has announced a new feature for iOS 12 where your location will be shared with 911 if you call for an emergency.

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

Approximately 80 percent of 911 calls today come from mobile devices, but outdated, landline-era infrastructure often makes it hard for 911 centers to quickly and accurately obtain a mobile callers location.

Instead, they get the location of the cellular tower transmitting the call, and must rely on other methods to figure out where the caller is.

The 911 support was not announced during Apple's software-heavy WWDC keynote earlier this month, where a number of other privacy, security and A.I. -powered features were introduced as coming later this year in iOS 12.

To address this challenge, Apple launched HELO (Hybridised Emergency Location) in 2015, which estimates a mobile 911 caller's location using cell towers and on-device data sources like Global Positioning System and WiFi Access Points.

Apple notes that this technology will put iPhone users ahead of an FCC requirement for carriers that doesn't kick in until 2021, namely that they be able to locate callers to within 50 meters at least 80 percent of the time.

But if you call 911 from that same mobile phone, emergency responders will only have a vague sense of where to send an ambulance, fire truck, or police vehicle.

Under a collaboration with startup company RapidSOS, Apple's current Hybridized Emergency Location system will integrate with 911 centers' existing software.

“This new functionality is an example of how companies and first responders can use technology to dramatically improve public safety, ” said Tom Wheeler, FCC Chairman from 2013 to 2017.

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

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

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