iOS 12 to Provide Stronger 911 Location Help

The next version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 12, automatically will share location data for iPhones used to make emergency calls. The system will use an IP-based data pipeline developed by RapidSOS to share location data from iPhones with 911 centers. About 80 percent of 911 calls are made using mobile devices, but outdated infrastructure makes it difficult for call centers to obtain accurate location data quickly. With a landline, location can be determined by rapidly searching a database for a billing address. That doesn’t work when a phone is in motion.
Better location information will improve emergency services. The key to Apple’s better location strategy is RapidSOS, which counts among its investors three former FCC chairmen: Obama appointees Tom Wheeler and Julius Genachowski and Reagan appointee Dennis Patrick. There are about 6,300 911 centers in the United States running 25,000 different software systems. What RapidSOS has done over the last five years is partner with all the major public safety software vendors to integrate a rich, next-generation 911 data connection into all those systems. Now, when a 911 call is made, a query is sent to RapidSOS for additional data on the caller, which, if it’s available, is sent to the 911 operator.
The FCC has been pushing carriers to improve the accuracy of their location services. It has established a 2021 deadline for carriers to locate at least 80 percent of their 911 calls within 50 meters of where they’re made. Apple decided not to wait, however. iPhones already exceed FCC requirements for location accuracy, and with iOS 12, they’ll be able to take advantage of RapidSOS’ technology. Apple also has taken several measures to protect users’ privacy. Data will be shared only during a 911 call, and only with the center managing the call. What’s more, data will be protected with end-to-end encryption, with technology similar to that used to protect mobile banking data.

You May Also Like