Apple has just announced a new iOS 12 feature for the US this fall: automatic location sharing with first responders when you dial 911 from your iPhone. The purpose of this added function is self-evident, as it aims to reduce emergency response times by streamlining the process of information gathering. Apple notes that approximately 80 percent of emergency calls in the United States are now made from a mobile device, however “outdated” infrastructure has made it difficult for 911 centers to quickly obtain a caller’s location.
This iOS 12 change builds on Apple’s Hybridized Emergency Location (HELO) system launched in 2015, and it will be integrated with existing software on “many” 911 centers’ systems with the help of emergency tech company RapidSOS. “This will accelerate the deployment of Next Generation 911 for everyone,” Apple’s announcement quotes Rob McMullen, President of the National Emergency Number Association, “saving lives and protecting property.”
Apple’s emphasis on privacy has also been underlined in the company’s announcement today, which notes that user data “cannot be used for any non-emergency purpose.”