Apple said it's adding the new technology ahead of a Federal Communications Commission rule set for 2021 that requires phone carriers be able to locate emergency callers within 50 meters 80 percent of the time. RapidSOS will automatically pass along iPhone location data using an industry-standard protocol that integrates with many 911 centers' existing software.
A lot of the time, the current AML system delivers imprecise location or is unable to pinpoint the caller's whereabouts quickly, and Apple's RapidSOS integration into iOS 12 comes to the rescue.
Apple claims that around 80% of 911 calls come from mobile devices, but the "outdated" infrastructure being used by first responders makes it hard for call centers to accurately determine the location of a caller. Now, though, more than 80% of 911 calls are made on cell phones in many parts of the country, according to the National Emergency Number Association.
"Communities rely on 911 centers in an emergency, and we believe they should have the best available technology at their disposal", said Apple CEO Tim Cook in a press release.
Apple already implements a feature called Hybridized Emergency Location, or HELO, that tries to estimate an iPhone caller's location for emergency services using radios.
"Helping 911 services quickly and accurately assess caller location has been a major issue since my time at the FCC", said Dennis Patrick, FCC Chairman from 1987 to 1989. "When every moment counts, these tools will help first responders reach our customers when they most need assistance".
"911 telecommunicators do extraordinary work managing millions of emergencies with little more than a voice connection", said RapidSOS CEO, Michael Martin. Its location services exceed this requirement today, and now 911 centers will have access to the same accuracy. RapidSOS's system will increase the precision considerably, the companies said.
RapidSOS is free for emergency response centers, but is now used by less than half nationwide.