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Could an iPhone save your life?

MBIE deputy chief executive Brad Ward announced New Zealand has gone live with Advanced Mobile Location (AML) for iOS, which is an important extension to the successful Emergency Caller Location Information (ECLI) service and has been deployed as part of Apple’s global release of iOS 11.3.

Launched by MBIE in May 2017, the ECLI service provides emergency services with the probable location of a caller when they dial 111 from a mobile phone, enabling emergency services to respond more quickly. 

The high precision location solution is now available for both Android and iPhones.

Ward says, “If we wind back a decade or so most calls to 111 came through landlines so emergency call takers knew where people were, but these days more than 80% of 111 calls are made from a mobile device. 

“In 2016 Police recorded more than 8,100 incidents where they had to make a special information request to a phone network provider for a caller’s location, due to being unable to verify the caller’s address.”

“Since May last year the ECLI service has been able to deliver higher precision information for Android phones and I am delighted with this news that Apple users who call 111 will be also able to be more precisely located.”

In the first six-months since the ECLI service was introduced, more than 400,000 genuine 111 calls were made to emergency services (Police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, St John, and Wellington Free Ambulance). 

Around 35% of those calls involved emergency call takers using MBIE’s system to help verify a 111 mobile caller’s location.

Feedback from emergency services is that the service has been vital in decreasing the time taken to verify the location of 111 mobile callers, and by reducing the average dispatch time for emergency events. 

Ward concludes, “Apple iOS users will need to install the iOS 11.3 update but will not have to do anything differently if they are calling 111, although it is still important for callers to tell emergency services operators where they are. 

“However, if the caller doesn’t know their address or exact whereabouts, this extension will automatically provide emergency services with a more precise location of a 111 caller.”

Previously, where people weren’t able to give an accurate location, emergency services experienced real difficulty verifying a mobile caller’s location and in some cases were required to make a special information request to a network provider for a caller’s location.

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