Apple to add life-saving new feature in iOS 12

Alfred Osborne
June 19, 2018

Apple says about 80 percent of 911 calls come from mobile devices, but outdated infrastructure makes it hard for 911 centers to locate a device's location.

Back in 2015, Apple launched HELO (Hybridized Emergency Location), which estimates a mobile 911 caller's location using cell towers and on-device data sources like Global Positioning System and Wi-Fi Access Points.

In the near future, when you call for emergency services in the US, Apple will automatically share your location with dispatchers.

iPhone users in the United States who call 911 will be able to automatically and securely share their location data with first responders beginning later this year with iOS 12, providing faster and more accurate information to help reduce emergency response times. The feature is built on RapidSOS' data pipeline system to instantaneously share location data with 911 centers.

With iOS 12, Apple adds security features, performance enhancements, Group FaceTime, ARKit 2, and more.

Apple to add life-saving new feature in iOS 12

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

'When every moment counts, these tools will help first responders reach our customers when they most need assistance'. User data can't be used for non-emergency purposes, Apple said.

Apple is hoping to bring more reliable location services to the emergency call system with the latest software update. We'll find out more when iOS 12 launches later this year, so stay tuned. This used a combination of cell data, Global Positioning System data and Wi-Fi access points to estimate the caller's whereabouts. Cellphone carriers now share location estimates with emergency dispatchers, but these can be off by as much as a few hundred yards.

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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