Apple’s iOS 12 Helps Emergency Responders Locate Callers More Quickly and Accurately With New Functionality

June 2018 – In a news bulletin shared on their website, Apple announced that the upcoming revision to its iPhone/iPad/iPod software, iOS 12, will include functionality to automatically share more detailed data on the caller’s exact location with emergency responders during a crisis event. This will allow responders to reach people faster and more efficiently. According to Apple, 80% of 911 calls currently come from mobile devices, but that the underlying “landline-era infrastructure” can delay emergency response rates. To address this need, Apple created the Hybridized Emergency Location (HELO) software which enables improved localization sharing using on-device sensors such as GPS and examining Wi-Fi Access Points. In addition to HELO, the company announced it would utilize emergency company RapidSOS’s “Internet Protocol-based data pipeline to quickly and securely share HELO location data with 911 centers.” RapidSOS CEO, Michael Martin said of this collaboration, We are excited to work with Apple to provide first responders a new path for accurate, device-based caller location using transformative Next Generation 911 technology.” 
Apple CEO Tim Cook, a longtime advocate for technologies that increase accessibility and security stated, “Communities rely on 911 centers in an emergency, and we believe they should have the best available technology at their disposal. When every moment counts, these tools will help first responders reach our customers when they most need assistance.” The report notes that in keeping with Apple’s privacy policies, location data will only be shared with emergency responders during crisis events. The FCC has mandated that carriers be able to locate callers within 50 meters with at least 80% accuracy by 2021, which can be technologically challenging due to the high density of mobile devices in city environments. President of the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), “We’re thrilled that Apple is giving 911 centers access to device-based location data via a thoroughly-tested, standards-based approach. This will accelerate the deployment of Next Generation 911 for everyone, saving lives and protecting property.”
Former FCC Chairman (2013-2017) Tom Wheeler said of this initiative, “This new functionality is an example of how companies and first responders can use technology to dramatically improve public safety. Lives will be saved thanks to this effort by Apple and RapidSOS.” Dennis Patrick, former FCC Chairman (1987-1989) wrote, “Helping 911 services quickly and accurately assess caller location has been a major issue since my time at the FCC. This advancement from Apple and RapidSOS will be transformative for emergency response in the United States.”
iOS is expected to debut this fall for free. All iOS 11 capable devices will be able to upgrade to iOS 12. The following devices are iOS 11/12 compatible:
• iPhone 5S, 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, SE, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X.
• iPad Air, Air 2 and 5th-gen iPad.
• iPad Mini 2, 3, and 4.
• All iPad Pros.
• 6th-gen iPod Touch.
Source: Apple Newsroom. 
Date of Publication: 
Tuesday, June 26, 2018


The contents of this website were developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90RE5025-01-00). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this website do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.