Google Will Tell 999 Responders Where You’re Calling From

Google launches Emergency Location Service in the UK, allows higher accuracy during mobile 999 calls

Google has launched a new service in the United Kingdom that will allow emergency responders to more accurately locate a caller’s position, and has partnered with BT, O2, Vodafone and EE to roll out the service.

The feature, called Emergency Location Service, sends location data from your phone to emergency services when you dial 999.

It uses the same location technologies smartphones already use such as Wi-Fi and GPS to get a more reliable emergency location both indoors and outdoors.The service went live this week in the UK and Estonia, but is currently only supported on Android devices.

‘Major issue’

“Today, over 70 percent of calls to emergency services come from mobile phones, but locating these mobile callers can be a major issue,” said Google in a blog post on Monday.

“Current emergency solutions rely on cell tower location (which can have a radius of up to several kilometres) or assisted GPS (which can fail indoors).”

Google added that it will never have access to the location data, which is sent from a caller’s handset to emergency services only when an emergency call is placed.

“Emergency Location Service is supported by over 99 percent of existing Android devices (version 2.3 out and upwards) through Google Play Services. The service activates when supported by your mobile network operator or emergency infrastructure provider,” added Google.

Google did not elaborate on if or when the service will be coming to the United States, but Federal Communications Commission policy requires service providers to make sure that 911 call centres can track a wireless caller within 50 metres of their location inside of 30 seconds.

Google AndroidApple already operates a similar feature, one that overrides a user’s location preferences on an iPhone to help emergency services locate the caller.

“For your safety, the location information on your device might be used for emergency calls to aid response efforts regardless of whether you enable Location Services,” said Apple.

“To protect your privacy, your location information is available only in the event of an emergency call. Your device will always indicate that it’s in emergency mode while your location is being shared.”

In June, Apple announced that it will be releasing an emergency call feature for watchOS 3, the company’s new smartwatch operating system.

Users have to press and hold the side button on an Apple Watch, and an emergency call will be placed after three seconds. The service ir routed through a paired iPhone, but will work directly over Wi-Fi if the watch is on a Wi-Fi network.

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