Google's Emergency Location Service for Android Comes to the US

Google's Emergency Location Service for Android Comes to the US

Emergency responders will be able to find T-Mobile E911 callers on Android faster and more accurately thanks to Google's launch of Emergency Location Service (ELS) with T-Mobile and RapidSOS.

Google has teamed up with RapidSOS, T-Mobile and West to make the U.S. rollout possible, and the company points out that users do not need to install any extra apps in order to benefit from ELS. For the US Virgin Islands, Google is partnering with emergency tech firm West and local wireless provider Viya. Users don't need to install a separate app or update the OS. Google told the Wall Street Journal that it tested its ELS tech in emergency call centers earlier this year and found that it reduced the average radius in which a caller might be located from 522 feet down to 121 feet. What makes it all the more tragically ironic is that the very devices most often used to call 911 - smartphones - contain exceedingly accurate location data. If your carrier supports the system then your location will automatically be forwarded directly to emergency services when you call them. The system is now available in 14 countries around the world, providing emergency centers with location data on more than 140,000 emergency calls per day.

The location-finding capabilities of USA emergency services are woefully inadequate, this much is known.

The new service uses GPS, Wi-Fi, mobile networks, and sensors to give a precise location when a 911 call is placed. In testing the technology in the United States, emergency centers have told us ELS has already helped save lives in their jurisdiction, decreasing the average uncertainty radius from 159 meters to 37 meters (from 522 feet to 121 feet). For example, in New Zealand, a caller was riding along on the highway when they saw a fire.

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ELS is supported on Android version 4.0 and above, so 99 percent of Android devices are covered.

The search giant isn't the only one offering mobile device location data to 911 responders.

The cyberattack slowed emergency response times as dispatchers had to resort to manual methods.

Apple's iOS 11 includes a great SOS feature for when you feel unsafe in an emergency, but you may want to disable the feature on your iPhone or Apple Watch to avoid accidentally calling 911.

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