IPhones to soon automatically share your location with 911

Apple Says Future iPhones Will Share Owner's Location When 911 Is Called

Your smartphone knows your location well enough to send a vehicle to where you're standing in a busy city, map a morning run through the woods, or navigate inside an airport. Apple's system uses technology that estimates a phone's location with data from cell towers, GPS and Wi-Fi access points.

The approach developed by Apple and RapidSOS sends location data from an iPhone to a "clearinghouse" accessible to emergency calling centers.

Of the 240 million calls made to 911 each year, more than 80 percent are from mobile devices, according to NEMA. Eric Gornitsky, dispatch operations supervisor of San Francisco's Department of Emergency Management, said location technology can make the city's 911 call centers more efficient. "Really, our core expertise is how to integrate new data sources and supplemental data with existing 911 systems". They might be in medical distress, or unable to speak because it would put them in danger. "But, we have techniques to try to control that and try to get them on a level so we can understand".

Getting medical attention in the first 60-minutes after a traumatic injury is key to preventing death.

Due to a significant increase in emergency and nonemergency calls since 2011, as well as staff shortages, San Francisco frequently failed to meet the national standard of responding to 90 percent of calls in under 10 seconds. The challenge was finding the ways to work with all of those systems without slowing down responses or overloading dispatchers with information.

With the new system, Apple will use an 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". In addition to location data, RapidSOS might have other data like a person's medical records. In February, Google, which makes the software that runs Android phones, conducted a trial with RapidSOS and West Corp., another company that counts 911 centers as customers. These help to counter the fact that every four out of five calls for emergency services come from mobile phones. The feature can't be accessed for non-emergency calls.

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They'll be part of iOS 12, the next version of Apple's iPhone software, which the company will release in September as a free update.

This isn't Apple's first emergency feature.

Privacy concerns have been at the center of this sort of location sharing in the past. A company spokeswoman says that it's deployed in less than half of the United States.

“Helping 911 services quickly and accurately assess caller location has been a major issue since my time at the FCC, ” said Dennis Patrick, FCC Chairman from 1987 to 1989.

Written by Heather Kelly for CNN.

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