iOS 12 will change how users’ location data is shared with emergency services
Location tracking makes many of us uncomfortable and raises issues about who has access to what information and about what constitutes a breach of privacy. But what if this technology could be used to save lives and protect property?
Apple announced that along with the mobile operating system iOS 12, which will arrive later this year, iPhone users in the United States will be able to automatically and securely share their location data with 911 first responders.
Back in 2015, Apple launched HELO (Hybridized Emergency Location), a way for cell towers and on-device data, such as GPS and WiFi Access Points, to help better determine a caller’s location. Now, the Cupertino, California-based tech firm aims to improve response time by also using emergency technology company RapidSOS’s Internet Protocol-based data pipeline to quickly, as well as securely, share HELO location data with the 911 centers.
Tim Cook, Apple CEO believes that these services should “have the best available technology at their disposal.”
In fact, it will become a requirement in the coming years; the company announcement notes that the “FCC requires carriers to locate callers to within 50 meters at least 80 percent of the time by 2021.” With Apple already capable of doing so with its iOS location services, it is making it available to 911 centers now.
“This will accelerate the deployment of Next Generation 911 for everyone, saving lives and protecting property,” said Rob McMullen, president of the National Emergency Number Association, the 911 Association. JB