Google expands Emergency Location Services in Android to the U.S.

Google's making it easier for 911 to find your location in an emergency

Google and T-Mobile team up for better 911 caller location data

Google has announced the launch of its Emergency Location Service (ELS) in partnership with T-Mobile and RapidSOS.

In the latest announcement, Google made a deal with T-Mobile. In fact, it is the same combination of technology used on Google Maps. With this announcement, emergency location from Android devices is now being delivered to emergency communications centers in the USA via the RapidSOS NG911 Clearinghouse, a secure source of emergency data that is offered as a free service to every public safety agency nationwide. Whereas current emergency solutions in the U.S. use cell tower location (which can provide a radius of up to several kilometers) or assisted Global Positioning System (which uses satellite and cell tower data, but can fail indoors), ELS use the same location tech as seen in Google Maps. The Mountain View search giant reports that its data decreases the average uncertainty radius from 522 feet to 121 feet. The location data is based on inputs from GPS, Wi-Fi sensors and mobile network data. It requires Android 4.0 or higher, so it works with over 99 percent of the Android devices now in use.

Google has teamed up with RapidSOS, T-Mobile and West to make the United States rollout possible, and the company points out that users do not need to install any extra apps in order to benefit from ELS. Now, they partnered to merge Google's location data with T-Mobile before sending it to 911.

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Emergency centers tested the technology in the country.

"I've been in 911 for over 20 years and for the longest time we had to wait for someone else to fix the wireless location challenge", said Bob Finney, 911 Communications Director at Collier County Sheriff's Office. In each case, calling 9-1-1 from your smartphone will make it possible for emergency services to get your location through ELS directly, hopefully making the process a bit smoother. It is especially useful for tourists. Apple announced the emergency call-location feature in June and is also partnering with RapidSOS.

Google's location data derived from inputs from Wi-Fi to sensors, Global Positioning System and mobile network information will leverage RapidOS's IP-based data pipelines to share location data. That is, they do not pass through Google servers.

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