Apple wants to solve problems pinpointing 911 calls for help

Apple wants to make emergencies easier to handle with its incoming mobile software.                  Apple

Efforts like HELO, Advanced Mobile Location in Europe, and now Next Generation 911 integration in iOS 12 are meant to combat the fact that roughly four out of five calls to emergency services come from mobile devices, Apple says, despite call centers relying on landline-era infrastructure. Next Generation 911 technology from partner firm RapidSOS will be integrated in iOS 12, however, to make emergency location sharing faster and more precise. 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. The feature will share iPhone location data with 911 first responders later this year, enabling quicker discovery of imperiled people and reduced response times.

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. Apple introduced HELO in 2015, which estimates a mobile 911 caller's location using cell towers and data sources like Global Positioning System and WiFi Access Points.

"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, in a statement about the new feature. "When every moment counts, these tools will help first responders reach our customers when they most need assistance". This used a combination of cell data, Global Positioning System data and Wi-Fi access points to estimate the caller's whereabouts. "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".

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RapidSOS works with trusted PSAP and first responder software vendors to deliver precise location and rich data to call-takers, dispatchers and first responders via existing call-taking, dispatch, and mapping software.

It states that carriers must "locate callers to within 50 meters at least 80 percent of the time by 2021". "Lives will be saved thanks to this effort by Apple and RapidSOS".

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