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Apple’s iOS 12 will let iPhones share your exact location with 911

22 June 2018

Apple this week announced that its devices will utilize RapidSOS technology to share location data with public safety when emergency calls are made using iOS 12, an upgrade to the Apple operating-system platform that is scheduled to be released later this year.

"Communities rely on 911 centres in an emergency, and we believe they should have the best available technology at their disposal", Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, said in a statement late on Monday. "When every moment counts, these tools will help first responders reach our customers when they most need assistance".

Partner firm, RapidSOS next generation 911 technologies will get integrated into iOS 12 in order to let the sharing of emergency location become faster and more precise.

In 2015, Apple launched its HELO (Hybridized Emergency Location) system, which approximated an iPhone user's location when the person called 911 by using cell towers, GPS and Wi-Fi access points.

Approximately 80 percent of 911 calls today come from mobile devices, but outdated, landline-era infrastructure often makes it hard for 911 centers to quickly and accurately obtain a mobile callers location.

Stringer said his 911 center gets about 175,000 calls from throughout McCracken County in an average year, with first responders being dispatched to about 92,000.

"911 telecommunicators do extraordinary work managing millions of emergencies with little more than a voice connection", said RapidSOS CEO, Michael Martin, in a prepared statement.

Not all callers in an emergency know where they are, and some can not verbally communicate their location. Apple also emphasized that the data shared with HELO and RapidSOS would not be available to anyone other than the the responding 911 operator during an emergency call.

But they will soon, following a new edict from the FCC that states ALL mobile providers should be able to pinpoint a user's location within 50 meters by 2021.

According to the city, three-fourths of 911 calls are made from cellphones.

"We are eager to look at anything that is going to help us in that small percentage", Gornitsky said. Apple says that with the new feature - which will arrive in the fall with iOS 12 - the company already exceeds this requirement.

"Answering the 911 call is different than receiving the location", said Paul Troxel, president of CalNena, a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of California emergency dispatchers. Apples four software platforms — iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS — provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud.

Apple’s iOS 12 will let iPhones share your exact location with 911