Apple Urged to Implement Feature That Sends an iPhone's Precise Location to Responders in Emergencies

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Aug 10, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    EENA, short for the European Emergency Number Association, has called on Apple to integrate a solution called Advanced Mobile Location into iOS to improve the safety of iPhone users in emergency situations.


    Advanced Mobile Location recognizes when an emergency call is made and, if not already activated, activates a smartphone's GPS or Wi-Fi to collect the caller's precise location information. The handset then sends an automatic SMS to the emergency services with the caller's location, before turning the GPS off again.

    For months, EENA said it has tried to establish contact with Apple to work on a solution that automatically provides accurate location derived from iPhones to emergency services and rescuers, but with no result so far.

    Advanced Mobile Location is allegedly up to 4,000 times more accurate than current emergency systems, which rely on cell tower location with a radius of up to several miles, or assisted GPS, which can fail indoors. EENA lists several real scenarios where AML's location accuracy was less than 12 meters.

    Last year, Google implemented a new AML-based solution called Emergency Location Service into Google Play services that automatically works on Android smartphones running its Gingerbread operating system or newer.

    AML also must be supported by carriers. EENA said the service is fully operational in several European countries, including the UK, Estonia, Lithuania, Austria, and Iceland, as well as New Zealand, on all mobile networks.

    In terms of privacy, Google said it never sees or handles the precise location obtained by its Emergency Location Service feature. Instead, the location is sent from the smartphone to emergency services only when a user explicitly places an emergency call, either directly or through their mobile network.

    EENA said AML has saved many lives by more accurately pinpointing a person's position. Accordingly, several minutes of time can be saved, according to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute:
    EENA said it recognizes the efforts of Apple to improve the safety of its customers. It acknowledged the SOS functionality of the Apple Watch, which can automatically send the location of a caller to a specified contact. However, it believes the location should be sent to emergency services and rescuers as well.

    Apple certainly cares about the safety of its customers. It doesn't appear to have publicly provided a reason against supporting AML.

    Via: The Next Web

    Article Link: Apple Urged to Implement Feature That Sends an iPhone's Precise Location to Responders in Emergencies
  2. Chupa Chupa macrumors G5

    Chupa Chupa

    Jul 16, 2002
    You think about this and it's really odd that Apple wouldn't implement this as part of SOS, at least as a user option.
  3. Michaelgtrusa macrumors 604


    Oct 13, 2008
    Everywhere And Nowhere
  4. sfobear macrumors newbie


    Nov 9, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    What's up with that video style!? If you tried to convince me to do anything with a presentation like that, I'd ignore you too. Seriously, the animation tone and the content are miles apart.

    (It sure doesn't create the impression that she's a competent woman either, but that's for another thread... maybe she's one of those women Google engineers. ;) )
  5. vicviper789 macrumors member

    Jun 5, 2013
  6. JosephAW macrumors 65816


    May 14, 2012
    If you don't know where you are you can use apps like 'Pacific' to get the exact street address. Or apps like 'HERE WeGo' maps that can locate exactly where you are, even without any cellular data or cellular plan and can even provide turn by turn navigation offline. (just be sure to download your state map(s) before heading out)

    Any smartphone without a plan still knows where it is located because it is constantly pinging the towers for location. Even taking photos on a phone without a plan can provide gps location in them, even when out to sea on a cruse ship because it's pinging the cell tower on the ship.
  7. Saipher macrumors regular


    Oct 25, 2014
    Sacramento, CA
    It seems like a good idea, especially if it will only be "activated" when the user places the emergency call.
    I hope Apple implements this feature.
  8. echelon5 macrumors newbie

    Mar 1, 2015
    Just because it's one of those thousands of commissions/associations asking for something doesn't mean that it's perfectly safe/perfectly valid/feasible/accurate etc. That's the point the public are fooled so easily. "Oh it's a commission request, so we all have to obey that". And they also add some "life saving" numbers so that no "logical" person can ignore it. We've seen many examples that these commissions were wrong and had to revise their plans because of incomplete/superficial analysis.

    On the other hand, Apple might simply be ignoring it cause they think it might be affecting some of their future plans for their Health platform.
  9. Abazigal macrumors 604


    Jul 18, 2011
    Apple is probably working on their own in-house version even as we speak.
  10. dstud208 macrumors member


    Mar 14, 2013
    I think this is a fantastic idea. Have the phone send its exact location when the user places a 911 call or maybe have a button that you press to send it. At every other time our privacy remains the exact same as it is now, but when you need help, it's there.
  11. apolloa macrumors G3


    Oct 21, 2008
    Time, because it rules EVERYTHING!
    Really, go in then what 'risks' are there?

    Or are you going to suggest... this is going to mean a hacker will be able to track your location because Apple will have opened a security hole in the firmware..

    Or will you be worried the government will be tracking you personally 24/7. Because they have nothing better to do? Even though they can track you in a million other ways...
  12. dstud208 macrumors member


    Mar 14, 2013
    lol, I mean seriously... come on people. To be honest I'm blown away that this isn't already a thing. Pizza delivery guys have had your exact location for a while now yet the ambulance can only get it if you tell them, which isn't always an option or you might not actually know
  13. riverfreak macrumors 6502a


    Jan 10, 2005
    Thonglor, Krungteph
    Having nothing to hide is such a specious argument for not being concerned about privacy.
  14. mw360 macrumors 65816


    Aug 15, 2010
    Predictable resistance in the comments already but what's the scenario where you need emergency assistance, are willing to give your cellphone number and place yourself at the scene, but don't want to give your exact location?
  15. ILikeAllOS macrumors 6502


    Jul 28, 2011
    Tampa Bay
    I've always wondered why they don't already have this in iOS.
    I already had to enter my home address when I turned on the Wifi Calling feature but it would be better if it could just pull my current location instead.
  16. X--X macrumors 6502

    Jun 11, 2015

    A vaguely defined term that can be used for practically anything.
  17. Michaelgtrusa macrumors 604


    Oct 13, 2008
    Everywhere And Nowhere
    Criminals will look for ways in. When you build in such features, it can always provide a line if sight.
  18. Person Man 2 macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2015
    "Oh, I don't know why this is needed since people calling emergency services can just tell the dispatcher their location."

    Except when they can't.

    People get lost in places other than urban areas, where there are no streets, etc. People can be critically injured or critically ill but still able to place a call to (or attempt to call) emergency services and then lose consciousness before they can tell the dispatcher their location. There are situations where is it not safe for someone to talk but has need of emergency services (for instance, they're hiding from someone who is trying to kill them and talking would give their location away and put them at risk of being discovered by the attacker).

    This would be incredibly useful, and could be implemented properly to minimize the risk to privacy.
  19. nt5672 macrumors 65816

    Jun 30, 2007
    I think the problem is that unless this is done in hardware, it could be activated anytime via malicious government mandate.
  20. Chupa Chupa macrumors G5

    Chupa Chupa

    Jul 16, 2002
    Right, but there are risks to every GPS feature on iOS, in my car. But if, say, I'm on a run at 8pm and feel something really bad coming on, I collapse, and the last thing I can pull myself to do is activate SOS. Lowering my privacy to emergency is fist to know where I am is a risk I'll take. And, in fact, this already is built into many cars which have emergency buttons.

    In a lot of emergency instances the victim literally has under 5 minutes to get medical help before something catastrophic happens to them so notifying just family or a friend may only let them know they need to pick up a body at the morgue. And again, it would be something the user would have opt into along with the rest of SOS's features. It wouldn't be default on.
  21. autrefois macrumors 65816


    Oct 22, 2003
    Somewhere in the USA
    Exactly. Some people might be (somewhat) comfortable with local and/or national authorities having the ability to get someone's location in an emergency in the US or other democracies/republics/non-authoritarian regimes. What about in China? Russia?

    Given revelations on government snooping of private citizens, I personally don't think we really trust our governments not to abuse this now or down the road. It's currently only when the user places a call, but I assume it'd be easy technologically to expand this to other scenarios.

    Plus, we are only taking Google's word that they or authorities can't access this data at other times. Apple and Google have both gotten flak for assisting in blocking certain apps, information, or features in China at various times.

    If Apple opens up this can of worms by allowing devices to send location information directly to authorities, it might become hard or impossible for them to prevent it from spreading to other less savory uses. Who thinks that Apple would actually pull out of China at this point if a dispute came up about this?
  22. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    This whole thing is pretty much redundant in the United States. We have had Enhanced 911 for years now. Phase II of E911 already sends GPS data when you call 911 to an agency that has the upgraded E911 equipment in their dispatch centers.

    For example, here is the Verizon Wireless disclosure page on E911.
  23. mw360 macrumors 65816


    Aug 15, 2010
    Didn't make it to the second sentence of the article?
  24. kyjaotkb macrumors 6502a

    Nov 20, 2009
    London, UK
    Does the "112" work in the US (thought it was 911) or China? This seems like an EU-centric initiative. The EENA is partly funded by the EU budget. Also - I fail to imagine valid cases where you'd call the emergency number but not want to disclose your location...
  25. bananas macrumors 6502


    Aug 1, 2007
    There's an app called 112 Suomi available in App Store in Finland that sends your location when you make an emergency call via the app.
    Other countries could implement this too.

    (112 Suomi stands for "$local_emergency_number Finland")

    Would be quite nice if this was implemented in iOS though, people wouldn't have to know the local emergency number when traveling.

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