According to CNBC news, recently announced last Monday a new feature in their iOS 12 update in which every 911 call will immediately and securely send the caller’s location with the emergency services. iOS 12 will be the newest update for both iPhones and iPads and will allow users to receive emergency services more quickly and efficiently by reducing response time, though this feature is only available in the U.S.
This newest development is not a brand new concept, as Apple has been working to communicate better with 911 centers since 2015, when they launched the Hybridized Emergency Location (HELO). HELO uses cell towers and other information like Wi-Fi access points to determine a 911 caller’s location. By partnering with RapidSOS, Apple is able to not just determine locations, but share them with emergency services automatically.
Apple launched HELO because 80% of 911 calls come from mobile devices, and when they come from landlines, it can be tough for the 911 dispatcher to determine the caller’s locations, according to Newsroom. iOS 12 will take this technology to the next level.
“911 telecommunicators do extraordinary work managing millions of emergencies with little more than a voice connection,” said RapidSOS CEO, Michael Martin. “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.”
Apple assured skeptics that this information will not be used for any non-emergency purposes and locations will only be shared with 911 centers.
In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted rules that require mobile carriers to allow 911 centers to identify a location within 50 meters of a person 80 percent of the time by 2021. But Apple is ahead of the curve, saying that they can already do this in 2018.
“Communities rely on 911 centers in an emergency, and we believe they should have the best available technology at their disposal,” said Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, in a statement. “When every moment counts, these tools will help first responders reach our customers when they most need assistance.”