As Apple revealed at WWDC 2018, iOS 12 is getting a lot of handy new features, but one in particular could be a real life saver. Apple has announced that iOS 12 will automatically share your location with emergency services when you call 911, allowing those who respond to your call to locate you faster. The entire process is automatic and secure, and it’s based on Apple technology that has existed for a few years now.
In its announcement today, Apple notes that its Hybridized Emergency Location tech will serve as the backbone of this iOS 12 feature. HELO, as it’s more commonly called, was first launched back in 2015, but it won’t be the only technology Apple leverages in iOS 12’s emergency sharing. It will also be utilizing RapidSOS’s “Internet Protocol-based data pipeline” to share users’ HELO data with 911 operators.
If you’re worried about privacy, Apple reassures that only the responding 911 center will have access to your location, and that your information can’t be used for non-emergency purposes. Apple noted today an upcoming FCC requirement that tasks carriers with being able to locate subscribers within 50 meters 80% of the time by 2021, and boasts that this pairing of HELO and RapidSOS is capable of exceeding those requirements today.
“Communities rely on 911 centers in an emergency, and we believe they should have the best available technology at their disposal,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said today. “When every moment counts, these tools will help first responders reach our customers when they most need assistance.”
Generally speaking, existing 911 infrastructure is centered around locating landline callers quickly, but as time goes on, more and more emergency calls are being made from mobile phones, which can make locating a caller difficult. The hope here is that Apple jumpstarts a shift within the wireless industry that will allow emergency responders to automatically locate mobile callers in most – if not all – scenarios. We’ll find out more when iOS 12 launches later this year, so stay tuned.