Apple has recently unveiled the annual upgrade to its iOS mobile operating system — the iOS 12. The Cuoertino tech giant also announced a new iOS 12 feature for the United States this fall, an automatic location sharing with first responders when a user dial 911 from their iPhone.
The main objective of this added functionality is obvious, as it aims to lessen emergency response times by smooth-running the process of gathering information from the 911 caller.
Apple stressed out that approximately 80 percent of emergency calls in the United States are now made from a mobile devices, however “outdated” framework has made it quite difficult for 911 respond teams to quickly acquire a caller’s location.
This new iOS 12 change builds on Apple’s Hybridized Emergency Location (HELO) system was launched back in 2015, and it will be incorporated with the existing software on “many” 911 centers’ systems with the support of emergency tech company RapidSOS which depend on industry-standard protocol.
“Communities rely on 911 centers in an emergency, and we believe they should have the best available technology at their disposal,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “When every moment counts, these tools will help first responders reach our customers when they most need assistance.”
“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 weight on privacy has also been emphasized in the its announcement today, which notes that user data “cannot be used for any non-emergency purpose” and and only the responding 911 center will have access to the user’s location during an emergency call.