Today, we are introducing a new Android feature called Emergency Location Service, to help emergency services find you when you need it the most. We are live today in the UK and Estonia, and are working to expand this to more countries and carriers internationally.
When emergency services get a call, they need to know the caller’s location to send help and save lives. Today, over 70% of calls to emergency services come from mobile phones, but locating these mobile callers can be a major issue. Current emergency solutions rely on cell tower location (which can have a radius of up to several kilometers) or assisted GPS (which can fail indoors).
Accurate emergency location can be the difference between life and death. In fact, the US Federal Communications Commission estimates “an improved location accuracy which results in reducing wireless E911 response time by one minute can result in saving over 10,000 lives annually”.
To help address this issue, we created the Emergency Location Service in Android. This feature, when supported by your network, sends location from your phone to emergency services when you dial an emergency number. This uses the same location technologies available to apps on your phone, including Wi-Fi, GPS, and cell towers, to produce a more reliable emergency location both indoors and outdoors.
This feature is solely for the use of emergency service providers, and location is never seen or handled by Google. It is sent from your handset to emergency services only when you explicitly place an emergency call, either directly or through your mobile network.
Emergency Location Service is supported by over 99% of existing Android devices (version 2.3 out and upwards) through Google Play Services. The service activates when supported by your mobile network operator or emergency infrastructure provider.
Our service is already live today for people with Android phones in the UK and in Estonia. We’ve collaborated with several mobile network operators and emergency services to make this possible:
We look forward to making Android’s Emergency Location Service available internationally, and are actively engaging with more countries and operators to make this widely available. If you are a mobile network operator or emergency infrastructure provider interested in supporting better emergency location from Android devices, get in touch with us.