A customer views an Apple Inc. iPhone 8 smartphone (Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

Apple to Provide More Precise Location Data for IPhone 911 Calls

(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. said an upcoming software update for iPhones will include technology that more precisely locates 911 emergency calls, helping first responders more quickly find people in need of assistance.

The Cupertino, California-based technology giant said it is partnering with New York-based RapidSOS on the feature for iOS 12 in the U.S. Currently, emergency services can determine the location of an iPhone caller via a technology called Hybridized Emergency Location, which uses a phone’s GPS and WiFi connectivity, in addition to local cell towers. RapidSOS’s system will increase the precision considerably, the companies said.

Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said the new service is the “best available technology” and will “help first responders reach our customers when they most need assistance.”

Apple said it’s adding the new technology ahead of a Federal Communications Commission rule set for 2021 that requires phone carriers be able to locate emergency callers within 50 meters 80 percent of the time. Apple typically releases its major iOS updates in September. Earlier this year, Apple added a similar technology called Advanced Mobile Location to the iPhone, mostly geared toward the European market.

In February, Alphabet Inc.’s Google tested the emergency location technology with RapidSOS, but hasn’t announced a formal roll out for its Android operating system.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.