The move is meant to address the problems with dialing emergency services from a cell phone, where outdated infrastructure has made it hard to obtain a mobile caller's location quickly and accurately, Apple says. With today's announcement, Apple is announcing that it will also use RapidSOS's data pipeline to quickly and securely share your HELO data with 911 centres allowing for a faster response.
In keeping with Apple's focus on privacy, user data can not be used for any non-emergency goal and only the responding 911 Center will be able to access the user's location during an emergency call.
Apple this morning announced a new feature in iOS 12 which will automatically share your location with first responders when U.S. users dial 911 using their iPhone. AML operates by automatically activating location services whenever an emergency call is made, then collecting and sharing the location with the emergency responder via text message before turning location services off.
The FCC requires carriers to locate callers to within 50 meters at least 80 percent of the time by 2021. iOS location services are capable of exceeding this requirement today, even in challenging dense-urban environments.
"Communities rely on 911 centers in an emergency, and we believe they should have the best available technology at their disposal", said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO.
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Of course, there are privacy implications to such a feature.
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. Responders can start a location-accurate dispatching process more quickly, coming to the aid of children who don't know their current address, confused accident victims, and suicidal individuals.
Google has been working on this, too, according to the Wall Street Journal.
But the list of countries was short.
Apple is announcing a new life-saving feature in iOS 12 that hasn't been publicly disclosed before today.