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Apple to share iPhone location with emergency services

iPhones will automatically share their location when users dial emergency services.

Apple has announced it will be launched as a feature in the US in system update iOS 12 in the autumn.

Devices will share their location with first responders when a user dials 911 in a bid to reduce emergency response times.

Despite around 80 per cent of 911 calls being made from mobile phones, outdated, landline-era infrastructure can make it difficult for 911 centres to get a fast and accurate reading of a caller's location.

Apple launched HELO (Hybridized Emergency Location) in 2015, which estimates a mobile 911 caller's location using cell towers and on-device data sources like GPS and WiFi Access Points.

The tech giant has announced it will also use emergency technology company RapidSOS's Internet Protocol-based data pipeline to quickly and securely share HELO location data with 911 centres, by integrating with their existing software which rely on industry-standard protocols.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said: "Communities rely on 911 centres 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 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires networks to locate callers to within 50 metres at least 80 per cent of the time by 2021.

The new iOS location services are capable of exceeding this requirement already, even in dense urban environments.

In keeping with Apple's strict stance on privacy, user data cannot be used for any non-emergency purpose and only the responding 911 centre will have access to their location during an emergency call.

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