Google introduces Emergency Location Service

Smartphones have become an integral part of our daily life and they can be programmed to keep track of the user's every move with location services. While not everybody is in favour of location services for privacy reasons, Google has now added Emergency Location Service for Android and is rolling this function out in the United Kingdom and Estonia. This is huge progress for emergency communications.

Emergency Location Service

The most important information for Emergency Services to retrieve when receiving an emergency call is the exact location of the caller and the emergency. Nowadays, over 70% of these calls are made with mobile phones, but locating mobile callers can be a major issue. Currently, Emergency Services rely on cell tower location, but these can have a radius of several kilometres, or assisted GPS, which often fails when indoors.

Google's new function is able to send a precise location from an Android smartphone, 85% of calls with Emergency Location Service are located in a radius of less than 50 metres, but only when this phone is used to dial an emergency service number. The difference with regular location services is that Google uses a combination of cell tower information, GPS and Wi-Fi to produce this much more reliable result. Data send by Emergency Location Service is not saved or seen by Google, it can only be accessed by emergency service providers.

All though over 99% of Android devices are theoretically able to support this feature, currently this service is only available for Android users in the UK and Estonia, because the service requires proper carrier and emergency services support.  So far, collaboration with carriers and emergency services in the UK and Estonia was established. Emergency Location Service requires minimal investment to implement, with huge benefits for Emergency Services, so extending this service to other countries is being worked on right now.