IPhone users will soon be able to share location with 911

Sheri Evans
June 19, 2018

The move is meant to address the problems with dialing emergency services from a cell phone, where outdated infrastructure has made it hard to obtain a mobile caller's location quickly and accurately, Apple says.

According to Apple, its HELO system is able to identify your location using cell towers and a variety of other data sources from your phone, including GPS and Wi-Fi access points.

"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. Apple has announced that iOS 12 will automatically share your location with emergency services when you call 911, allowing those who respond to your call to locate you faster. The company has also partnered with a company called RapidSOS, which will securely transmit the data to 911 centers. The new iOS feature will be a lot more accurate, according to Apple, potentialy saving lives.

'When every moment counts, these tools will help first responders reach our customers when they most need assistance'.

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Emergency calling centers, however, don't get that detailed location information from mobile 911 calls. 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.

Note: iOS 12 is now only available as a developer beta, however, a public beta will likely be released sometime soon. This new location-sharing would allow 911 centers to find callers location faster and with much greater accuracy than they can under the current system - and finally brings US users up to speed with those in Europe.

Individual call centers will each have to embrace the technology required to communicate with the RapidSOS clearinghouse. This used a combination of cell data, Global Positioning System data and Wi-Fi access points to estimate the caller's whereabouts.

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