Upcoming iPhone update could radically improve 911 service

National/World
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You may be surprised to learn that Uber drivers have an easier time finding you than most 911 dispatchers.

But a new iPhone update coming in a few months will radically change that.

Apple has partnered with RapidSOS for a new iOS update that will be available this fall.

Once this new technology is rolled out, if you call 911 on your iPhone, these dispatchers will immediately be able to pinpoint your location, saving precious time and lives.

Dispatcher John Mercer has seen it time and time again, 911 callers who have no idea where they are.

Mercer anxiously asks questions to help, and it’s a desperate situation.

“[We ask them to] find mail, look at a house number, see if they could find a street sign, anything possible, and time is the essence, especially when somebody needs an ambulance or the fire department and we can’t find them, it’s a little aggravating,” said Mercer.

When someone is in danger, every second counts. 

But this could all soon be a thing of the past. 

With the new iOS update, 911 centers across America, including in Manatee County, will be able to accurately find the caller’s location.

“It should be accurate within about six meters whereas a cell phone call now can be off as much as 500 meters or sometimes we can’t get the signal at all,” said Emergency Communications Chief Jacob Saur.

RapidSOS accesses your iPhone’s GPS and WiFi data to find you.

There are other applications too.

For example, if you’re in an Uber and in danger, dispatchers won’t have a problem finding you.

“You get in that car and then you need help, you’ll be able to dial 911 straight from the Uber app and that will send the data as well to 911 centers and we’ll be able to track that vehicle,” said Saur. “We’ll be able to track that in real time as well, as the cell phone moves we can see where that cell phone is moving as well.”

Mercer is excited that antiquated 911 centers are keeping up with the times.

“Time is of the essence, especially when they’re calling for help,” said Mercer. “Especially out of state visitors who are not familiar with the area, so it’s going to help tremendously if people aren’t familiar with where they’re at, we can get ’em help.”

Officials say Android phones are also expected to have this update in the near future.

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