911 Can Use Your Phone GPS to Find You In An Emergency

Getty Images / Jaromir Chalabala / EyeEm

Yesterday, Apple announced a new feature coming to all iPhones later this year that will tell 911 your EXACT location if you call and need help. 

 Most people don't know this, but 911 has never been able to use your cell signal to pinpoint you like they can with a landline.  They only see the cell towers you're close to, which gives them a general area.  And that area is usually hundreds of yards wide.  

That's a problem, because about 80% of 911 calls are now made from cell phones.  And callers aren't always able to communicate their location, either because they can't talk, or don't know exactly where they are.  

And this new feature could help even if you DO know where you are.  Because if they immediately know your location, they can get help to you even faster. 

Obviously phones already have the capability to make all of this happen, but the 911 response system hasn't had a major overhaul in 50 years. So Apple is now extending that GPS capability to dispatchers. And if you really don't want them knowing your location, there WILL be an option in your settings to turn 911 tracking off.  

I know some people will think this is a little Big Brother-y...and it is. But the reality is, you're already carrying the signal in your pocket, so why not have that signal be used in the event of an emergency? And again, if you don't want your location tracked, there is the option to disable the feature. I think as long as people can opt in or out, it's a great idea, and can help a lot of people in an emergency.

Sarah Jacobs

Sarah Jacobs

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