Apple Says Future iPhones Will Share Owner’s Location When 911 Is Called

Apple Inc. has announced that future iPhones will share their owner’s location data automatically if they call 911 in an emergency.

The new feature is designed to give first responders faster and more accurate information, helping to reduce the time it takes for emergency services to arrive on scene. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), about 70% of 911 calls today are made by people using mobile phones. But outdated systems make it difficult for emergency call centres to pinpoint a mobile user’s exact location, Apple said in a news release.

In 2015, the FCC created a mandate that requires major carriers to provide accurate location data for 80% of emergency service calls by 2021. Apple says that with the new feature — which will arrive in the fall with iOS 12 — the company already exceeds this requirement.

Apple said the new location feature builds on its existing Hybridized Emergency Location (HELO) technology, which it launched in 2015. HELO uses a device’s GPS and cell towers to estimate a 911 caller’s location. Apple will also use tools developed by the company RapidSOS to quickly share that data with 911 call centres. The location data, Apple said, can’t be used for nonemergency purposes and will be accessible only to the 911 call centres during an emergency.