Apple has just developed a new partnership with startup RapidSOS. This connection will allow iPhones to automatically share your exact location with first responders when you call 911.
The new system enables iPhone users location to be sent to a RapidSOS dispatcher who will them forward the coordinates to local emergency response centers. This will greatly increase the speed and accuracy for local ambulances and paramedics to reach callers in record times. This new system could potentially save 10,000 lives per year, according to federal regulator estimates.
The new feature will come as a part of the package of iOS 12, an iPhone software update due later this year.
More than 80% of 911 calls are made on cell phones in many parts of the country, according to the National Emergency Number Association. Cellphone carriers currently share location estimates with emergency dispatchers, but these can be off by as much as a few hundred yards.
Apple says the location data cannot be shared if 911 has not been called, and that RapidSOS’ data will be separate from that held by cellphone carriers.
Apple Insider describes the way the technology will work:
“When a user on a mobile call places a 911 call, the first stop is the wireless carrier. The wireless company routes the voice information to a 911 center, and the cell tower address to a local location database which may not be up to date.
While the operator is on the call, what the center has for information on that particular tower is passed to the operator, and then passed to the emergency responders. At some point in the process, the user’s data is passed back to the carrier for a more precise location, and the specific location of the phone is queried.”
RapidSOS is free for emergency response centers, but is currently used by less than half nationwide. The company expects this to increase to a majority of centers by the end of the year, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Does this trend in sharing personal information frighten you in any way? How far do you think this kind of technology will go? Should RapidSOS be a mandatory addition to all emergency call centers?