Android phones: Dialing 911 now automatically shares your location

Gerald Bowen
September 22, 2018

Finally, we've already launched ELS in the US Virgin Islands through a partnership with West and a regional wireless provider, Viya.

Android ELS, a service supported on 99% of Android devices, transmits faster and more accurate emergency location both indoors and outdoors to emergency services during a 911 call.

Emergency centers in the United States will soon be able to support the technology thanks to Google's partnership with RapidSOS, an emergency tech company that can integrate its product with the software already used by 911 centers.

Google addressed this issue a couple of years ago by launching Emergency Location Service (ELS) for Android phones. In each case, calling 9-1-1 from your smartphone will make it possible for emergency services to get your location through ELS directly, hopefully making the process a bit smoother.

Google has expanded Android's Emergency Location Service to more people in the U.S., making it easier for emergency services to locate people when responding to a 911 call out.

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This comes after Google launched the service in United Kingdom and Estonia in 2016. You don't need a separate app, update, or any special hardware to benefit.

Hopefully, with this service in place, US citizens will have similar success rates as other countries that already use ELS.

"Wireless providers like T-Mobile have existing ways to share emergency locations with emergency centers, but this integration with ELS will help deliver higher accuracy locations faster than before", Chai wrote. "The location is computed on the device and delivered directly to emergency providers only when you explicitly call an emergency number", Chai added.

The new system could help in scenarios when someone calls 911 from a mobile but can't explain his or her location accurately to the operator, for example, if they don't know the area, cannot speak English, or if the call is cut off. "With ELS and RapidSOS, we can actually take action in the emergency communications center to improve the safety of our citizens".

Google's location data derived from inputs from Wi-Fi to sensors, Global Positioning System and mobile network information will leverage RapidOS's IP-based data pipelines to share location data.

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