Google introduces Emergency Location Service

Created on Thursday, 28 July 2016

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.

Emergency Location Service

When Emergency Services receive a call, the most important information for them is the exact location of the caller and the incident. 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, 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 a much more reliable result. This information can only be seen by emergency service providers; Google does not have access to the user’s precise location.

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. Extending this service quickly to other countries is being worked on right now.