iPhone users in the United States who call 911 will be able to automatically and securely share their location with first responders later this year with iOS 12, if the 911 centers are able to receive that enhanced data; Eaton County 911 has made upgrades and is ready to accept the enhanced information, according to 911 Director Michael Armitage.
Approximately 80 percent of 911 calls today come from mobile devices, but outdated, landline-era infrastructure often makes it difficult for 911 centers to quickly and accurately obtain a mobile caller’s location.
To address the challenge, Apple launched HELO (Hybridized Emergency Location) in 2015, which estimates a mobile 911 caller’s location using cell towers and on-device data sources like GPS and Wi-Fi Access Points.
“It has historically been a challenge to get reliable location information from wireless phones. We hope that this technology will give 911 public safety telecommunicators another tool to quickly get help where it is needed,” Armitage said.
Apple announced it will also use emergency technology company RapidSOS’s 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.
RapidSOS’s system will deliver the emergency location data of iOS users by integrating with many 911 centers’ existing software, which relies on industry-standard protocols.
Eaton County 911 has assisted RapidSOS in the testing of their technology since 2015 and began officially integrating data from RapidSOS through the Smart911/Rave Mobile Safety platform in 2016.
“Having this connection to the RapidSOS NG-911 Clearinghouse in place at Eaton County 911 puts us in a position to immediately benefit from this supplemental location data once iOS 12 is released,” Armitage said.