Android Phones in the US Now Able to Provide Accurate Location Data to Emergency Services
In an era where cab/pizza can arrive at your exact location, it wouldn’t be incorrect to assume that emergency services would have the same capabilities. That, however, is far from true and smartphones have had a hard time providing accurate location information to responders. Until now, emergency services relied on an approximate location based on the cellular towers nearby, which in many cases was woefully inaccurate. Thankfully, Google stated a few months ago that they’re working on improving the situation.
Today @Google announced new Emergency Location Services. With @TMobile’s existing tech, it can help in better pinpointing a 911 caller’s location, which is hugely impactful. A great 4 years working with Google to develop and implement ELS. https://t.co/yc1EdWog9v
— Neville (@NevilleRay) September 19, 2018
Google tested the service first in Estonia and the back in 2016 and gradually expanded it to 14 countries worldwide. The current technology employs ELS, the same location tech as seen on Google Maps. This includes cell, GPS, and Wi-Fi signals, as well as info from other smartphone sensors.
ELS takes this more robust information set and uses it to define the location on the device, then sends it directly to emergency services when a 911 call is placed, without passing through Google servers. The process is observed to decrease the average uncertainty radius from 522 feet to 121 feet. In regions where it is available, Google partners with wireless carriers and public safety organizations to provide the service, which is available on any Android smartphone running Android 4 or higher.
In the US, emergency tech firm RapidSOS provides ELS locations directly to emergency communications centres through its secure platform, which is integrated directly into existing software at emergency centres in the US. Google’s partnership with T-Mobile works similarly. Support is also available in the US Virgin Islands, through a partnership with another technology company and wireless provider. Google further notes it will continue to expand in the US and to additional regions and countries, although there is no timeline specified at this moment.