IOS 12 will automatically share users' location data during 911 calls

IOS 12 will automatically share users' location data during 911 calls

If it lives up to Apple's promise, the next iPhone operating system coming out in September will automatically deliver quicker and more reliable information pinpointing the location of 911 calls to about 6,300 emergency response centres in the US.

Apple first launched a version of this service, called HELO (Hybridized Emergency Location), back in 2015.

Apple is trying to solve a problem caused by the technological mismatch between a 50-year-old system built for landlines and today's increasingly sophisticated smartphones.

The company's iOS 12 update, scheduled to be released this fall, will allow iPhone users to "automatically and securely" share more precise location data. The new iOS feature will be a lot more accurate, according to Apple, potentialy saving lives. "When every moment counts, these tools will help first responders reach our customers when they most need assistance".

"iOS location services are capable of exceeding this requirement today, even in challenging, dense, urban environments", Apple said. Global Positioning System location data will also be used. This used a combination of cell data, Global Positioning System data and Wi-Fi access points to estimate the caller's whereabouts.

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Note: iOS 12 is now only available as a developer beta, however, a public beta will likely be released sometime soon.

"We're thrilled that Apple is giving 911 centers access to device-based location data via a thoroughly-tested, standards-based approach", said Rob McMullen, President of the National Emergency Number Association, the 911 Association. RapidSOS's technology integrates with 911 centers' existing software.

Only the 911 calling centers will be able to see the data during the call, and none of it can be used for non-emergency purposes, according to Apple.

Former top officials at the Federal Communications Commission lauded Apple's move.

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