New iOS Has Enhanced Emergency Features
Apple has announced that the newest version of its operating system for the iPhone and iPad will contain enhanced emergency features to make it easier for users to get help in a crisis. The new features will be part of iOS 12, the upcoming software update for Apple devices. Apple unveiled iOS 12 and detailed the software at WWDC 2018 earlier this month.
As part of the enhanced emergency features, iOS 12 users will be able to automatically share their location with first responders when they call 911 from their iPhone. This will allow emergency services to locate callers in an instant even if the caller cannot provide any information over the phone. Apple guarantees that only the responding call center will have access to the data during the 911 call and that the location data won’t be used for any “non-emergency purpose”.
The new update will use technology developed by a company called RapidSOS to share location data with emergency services. RapidSOS will intregrate its system with existing software used by call centers. RapidSOS CEO Michael Martin said, “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.”
In a press release, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “Communities rely on 911 centers in an emergency, and we believe they should have the best available technology at their disposal. When every moment counts, these tools will help first responders reach our customers when they most need assistance.” The new feature will be U.S.-only at launch and available on iPhone 5 models and newer
According to information from Apple, roughly 80 percent of 911 calls come from mobile devices, but it is difficult for call centers to accurately determine the location of these devices due to “outdated” infrastructure. The existing 911 system in the U.S. is 50 years old as of February. Apple says that iOS location services are now capable of locating mobile callers to within 50 meters at least 80 percent of the time. According to research from the Federal Communications Commission, an improvement of just one minute in emergency response times could save up to 10,000 lives each year.