IPhone users will soon be able to share location with 911

Laverne Mann
June 19, 2018

Apple has announced that iPhone users in the United States who make 911 calls will be able to "automatically and securely" share their location data with first responders later this year.

In 2015, Apple launched HELO (Hybridized Emergency Location), which would estimate a caller's location using Global Positioning System and Wi-Fi Access points.

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. "User data can not be used for any non-emergency objective and only the responding 911 center will have access to the user's location during an emergency call", the company said.

Apple is partnering with the firm RapidSOS on the iOS 12 feature, using its IP-based "data pipeline" to securely share HELO location data with 911 centers.

Apple is beta-testing a new feature called "USB restricted mode" created to improve the security of their devices against all kinds of potential intruders. Its location services exceed this requirement today, and now 911 centers will have access to the same accuracy.

Apple to Provide More Precise Location Data for iPhone 911 Calls

With iOS 12, Apple is advancing its Hybridized Emergency Location (HELO) technology to help reduce emergency response times.

'When every moment counts, these tools will help first responders reach our customers when they most need assistance'. It does this, as you've probably guessed, using the iPhone's readily-available data connection to the internet. It will see the location of USA iPhone users shared with dispatch responders during 911 calls.

This data will only be available to the 911 center responding to the call; it can not be used for any non-emergency objective, Apple said.

Individual call centers will each have to embrace the technology required to communicate with the RapidSOS clearinghouse. RapidSOS's technology integrates with 911 centers' existing software.

Tom Wheeler, a former chairman for the Federal Communications Commission, believes Apple's new approach for locating 911 calls will set a new industry standard.

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Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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