News

Apple Enables Auto Location Sharing for 911 Calls on iOS 12

For Faster Emergency Response

Apple is seeking to improve emergency response times via the latest iOS 12 update. Now iPhone users will automatically share the location data whenever calling the 911 emergency number.

Considering close to 80 percent of 911 calls today come from mobile devices, this seems like a good move. However, making this feature possible did not exactly come easy for Apple. Especially since most communications infrastructures are from the landline-era. Therefore triangulating the location of a mobile call is not quite accurate or fast.

How Does Apple’s Automated 911 Location Sharing Work?

Apple first announced their HELO program in 2015. HELO stands for Hybridized Emergency Location, which estimates the mobile 911 caller’s location using cell towers, in combination with on-device data sources such as WiFi access points and GPS data.

Now Apple is combining this feature with their new RapidSOS’s data pipeline. This quickly shares your HELO data with 911 centres allowing for a faster response. Furthermore, it is also secure since there is direct integration into 911’s internal systems.

In keeping with Apple’s focus on privacy, user data are not usable for any non-emergency purpose. Moreover, only the responding 911 center will have access to the user’s location during an emergency call.

The program is only available for iPhone users with iOS 12 within the United States for now.

Ron Perillo

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