Apple to add life-saving new feature in iOS 12

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Back in 2015, Apple launched HELO (Hybridized Emergency Location), which estimates a mobile 911 caller's location using cell towers and on-device data sources like Global Positioning System and Wi-Fi Access Points.

The company's iOS 12 update, scheduled to be released this fall, will allow iPhone users to "automatically and securely" share more precise location data. "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.

Apple is trying to solve a problem caused by the technological mismatch between a 50-year-old system built for landlines and today's increasingly sophisticated smartphones.

The iOS 12 change list now includes a potentially life-saving upgrade in the United States, one that will allow first responders to pinpoint your whereabouts in an emergency. User location data can not be shared for non-emergency purposes, and only the 911 center will have access to the location during the call itself.

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When the feature becomes available, 'Apple phones will send fast and accurate device location to the NG911 Clearinghouse when a user dials 9-1-1, ' RapidSOS explained in a blog post. Earlier this year, Apple added a similar technology called Advanced Mobile Location to the iPhone, mostly geared toward the European market.

RapidSOS's technology integrates with existing software installed at many 911 centers, which is how they'll receive the data.

"This will accelerate the deployment of Next Generation 911 for everyone, saving lives and protecting property", said Rob McMullen, president of the National Emergency Number Association, the 911 Association. RapidSOS's system will increase the precision considerably, the companies said. The emergency communications startup shares the location data obtained during a 911 call with the emergency call center.

In the near future, when you call for emergency services in the US, Apple will automatically share your location with dispatchers.