EENA Criticizes Apple for Not Integrating Emergency Call Location Technology into iPhones
Friday, August 11, 2017 | Comments
The European Emergency Number Association (EENA) is calling out Apple for not adding advanced mobile location (AML), a technology that allows emergency services to accurately locate a caller in danger, to iPhones and other Apple devices.

In June 2016, Google updated all Android smartphones in the world with AML, and the service has been activated in many countries with many lives saved. EENA provided a summary of stories by European country where the technology helped emergency callers.

EENA said it has tried to contact Apple to work on a solution that automatically provides accurate location derived from iPhones to emergency services and rescuers, “unfortunately, with no result,” an EENA statement said.

Emergency services themselves, as well as other stakeholders, are publicly stressing the need for Apple to work on AML, an open European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) protocol. Belgium announced the launch of AML for Android users 13 July but indicated that iPhone users should download the “112BE” smartphone app because the service is not available to Apple customers.

The Apple Watch offers an SOS functionality that can automatically send the location of a caller to a specified contact. However, the functionality is not yet available in Apple mobile phones, and the location should be sent to emergency services and rescuers as well, EENA said. In addition, Apple last month received a patent for technology that would sense a fingerprint touching an iPhone screen to trigger a 9-1-1 call. When the panic command is activated, the phone would provide the users' location to responders, all performed discreetly.

“Recent news about the ‘panic command’ on iPhones, including a location function, is also a step in the right direction,” EENA said. “But it is not sufficient: Accurate location information should be sent during all emergency calls. As AML is being deployed in more countries, iPhone users are put in a disadvantage compared to Android users in the scenario that matters most: an emergency.”

AML was first offered in 2014 by British Telecom (BT), EE and HTC in the United Kingdom to pinpoint the source of 9-9-9 emergency calls from mobile phones to a radius of 30 meters or less. In 2015, EENA said the technology should be used throughout Europe.

The Australian government in June said it plans to issue a request for tender (RFT) to deliver the next-generation Triple Zero emergency call service with integrated AML technology.

“EENA calls on Apple to integrate AML in their smartphones for the safety of their customers,” the group said. “It is important to highlight once again that AML is an open-source protocol, and any smartphone manufacturer or operating system provider can integrate it in their products.

“EENA remains at the disposal of Apple to work together on a solution that will concretely improve the safety of its customers.”

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