Dozens of smart phone features make it clear on a daily basis that your device knows where you are.
Whether it is your Uber driver's ability to find you or personalized traffic and weather, there's no doubt. Nevertheless, even as more and more Americans switch from land lines to cell phones, 911 has been left behind. Where as phones linked to your home were easy for dispatchers to locate, your iPhone is not. That is about to change.
More than 8 in 10 calls to 911 now come from a cell phone. It was clear a change was needed in the market and the iPhone is giving it a shot.
Apple says its iPhone will help emergency crews find callers when seconds count.
In the past, the best 911 could do is locate you to within the nearest cell coverage area. All along, though, those precise locations were tucked away in the smart devices. Apple is now unlocking access to that information for iPhone users who call for emergency assistance.
The next iPhone version will include a software feature allowing for this update. Using GPS, combined with WiFi input and cell tower coverage, your iPhone will locate you precisely.
Apple has been able to calculate these coordinates since at least 2015. Until now there has been no mechanism to share it with those who really need it when it counts. The company is now working with Rapid SOS, a company that has experience in this sector. That firm provides software integration the works in tandem with the system used by 911 dispatchers.
The latest iPhone feature fuels concerns about privacy in an increasingly tech driven society.
Many people are already up in arms about revelations from Facebook and other tech companies. We have found out that our private information is often anything but private. Now we see even more of our data potentially being shared with authorities and 911 dispatchers. That might be enough to concern you, and you would not be alone.
Communications experts, however, say this is merely the type of evolution needed in 911 technology. If you are in dire need of emergency assistance, you would possibly be more inclined to agree. Regardless of your position, the state of the art continues to progress. And unless you want to revert to previous eras of technology, you kind of have to get on board.
iPhone has previously been a pretty reliable defender of user data.
Even though this move can be seen as a shift away from that reputation, supporters applaud Apple. Former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is among those who endorse Rapid SOS and this program.
"The 911 system is literally 50 years old this year," he said. "It has not made the evolution into the digital era."
Wheeler is one of three to have held his position who are now investors in the Rapid SOS system.
A necessary upgrade, an invasion of privacy, or a combination of both, this is happening. It is a sign of the times, and an evolution that could potentially save your life.
What do you think? Are you comfortable with your iPhone sharing your information with a 911 dispatcher? Let us know in the comments section below. And share this article with the iPhone fans in your life so they will be aware of the change.
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