IPhones to Share Location With First Responders On 911 Calls

Isaac Cain
June 18, 2018

This new feature allows Apple to make these benefits available to local 911 centers now rather than years from now.

'Communities rely on 911 centers in an emergency, and we believe they should have the best available technology at their disposal, ' said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO.

While iOS 11.3 added support for Advanced Mobile Location (AML), an automatic location-sharing feature used by some European emergency services, iOS 12 will include support for a similar USA emergency service called RapidSOS, Apple announced today. Starting this fall when iOS 12 is released, first responders will be able to access location data "securely and automatically" when iPhone customers call 911.

A new patent awarded to Apple has technology for the iPhone to send 911 responders to the emergency location.

Apple is trying to solve a problem caused by the technological mismatch between a 50-year-old system built for landlines and today's increasingly sophisticated smartphones.

These changes will come as part of iOS 12, which is set to be released in September.

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"We're thrilled that Apple is giving 911 centers access to device-based location data via a thoroughly-tested, standards-based approach", said Rob McMullen, President of the National Emergency Number Association, the 911 Association. The service, as you could have guessed from the emergency number mention, is for US users only (Europe has its own 112 number), and works as a supplement to the current AML mapping dispatchers are used to.

Apple's iOS 11 includes a great SOS feature for when you feel unsafe in an emergency, but you may want to disable the feature on your iPhone or Apple Watch to avoid accidentally calling 911.

Some centers already have the compatible software, according to Apple, but others will have to install upgrades to their existing software.

'This is going to save a lot of lives, ' said Wheeler, now a visiting professor at Harvard University.

iOS 12 will be compatible with every iPhone model up to the iPhone 5s.

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