Apple, Inc., announced today that users of iPhones with iOS 12 will automatically share the location information of the devices when users call 911 beginning later this year.
“Approximately 80 percent of 911 calls today come from mobile devices, but outdated, landline-era infrastructure often makes it difficult for 911 centers to quickly and accurately obtain a mobile caller’s location,” Apple noted in a news release. “To address this challenge, Apple launched HELO (Hybridized Emergency Location) in 2015, which estimates a mobile 911 caller’s location using cell towers and on-device data sources like GPS and WiFi Access Points. Apple today announced it will also use emergency technology company RapidSOS’s Internet Protocol-based data pipeline to quickly and securely share HELO location data with 911 centers, improving response time when lives and property are at risk. RapidSOS’s system will deliver the emergency location data of iOS users by integrating with many 911 centers’ existing software, which rely on industry-standard protocols.”
“Communities rely on 911 centers in an emergency, and we believe they should have the best available technology at their disposal,” said Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook. “When every moment counts, these tools will help first responders reach our customers when they most need assistance.”
“We’re thrilled that Apple is giving 911 centers access to device-based location data via a thoroughly-tested, standards-based approach,” said National Emergency Number Association President Rob McMullen. “This will accelerate the deployment of Next Generation 911 for everyone, saving lives and protecting property.”
“The FCC requires carriers to locate callers to within 50 meters at least 80 percent of the time by 2021. iOS location services are capable of exceeding this requirement today, even in challenging, dense, urban environments,” Apple said. “This new feature allows Apple to make these benefits available to local 911 centers now rather than years from now.”
Morgan Reed, president of the app developer trade association ACT, said, “We’re thrilled to see our member RapidSOS partner with Apple to support the important work of emergency first responders. Smartphones have become ubiquitous in our lives, and precise location and rich emergency data from the RapidSOS mobile technology will help first responders reach and help people when they need it most.”
Mr. Reed added, “Policymakers have long sought to provide first responders the ability to locate a person in distress while receiving rich data about his or her condition — the partnership between RapidSOS and Apple is a key step in making this important effort a reality. RapidSOS is a prime example of how the thousands of innovative app developers who drive the $950 billion app economy offer solutions that make our lives better and safer.” —Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org