Google is finally expanding the life-saving Android Emergency Location Service it first debuted in 2016 to the US.
Already available in 14 other countries, the service is designed to pinpoint your exact location and share it with emergency responders when you call 911 from an Android device.
“More than 80 percent of emergency calls come from mobile phones, but locating these phones can be challenging as traditional emergency location technologies can fail indoors or have a radius that’s too big to be useful,” Android Product Manager Jen Chai wrote in a Wednesday blog post.
Enter Android ELS. The service uses GPS, Wi-Fi, mobile networks, and sensors to identify your location, both indoors and out, with the same accuracy as Google Maps. Some 99 percent of Android devices – any handset running Android version 4.0 or later – already support this capability, but Google has been working with wireless service and emergency infrastructure providers to add support on the receiving end.
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Google is launching Android ELS in the US with the help of T-Mobile and emergency technology companies RapidSOS and West. Android users on T-Mobile in the US will automatically benefit from this service.
Meanwhile, RapidSOS is making it available to all public safety agencies nationwide via its free Next Generation 911 (NG911) Clearinghouse. More than 1,000 emergency communication centers across the country, covering more than 100 million people, already utilize the NG911 Clearinghouse.
Finally, ELS is also now available in the US Virgin Islands thanks to Google’s partnership with West and regional wireless provider Viya.
“The ELS service activates where it is supported by your wireless provider or emergency infrastructure provider,” Chai explained. As a user, you don’t need to do anything, should you need it. Your location is sent right to the emergency provider, without passing through Google’s servers.
Google has been trialing the service with RapidSOS in the US, and the results have been promising.
“Emergency centers have told us ELS has already helped save lives in their jurisdiction, decreasing the average uncertainty radius from … 522 feet to 121 feet,” Chai wrote. “At the Collier County Sheriff’s office in Florida, a caller who had given an incorrect address was able to be found thanks to ELS. And in Loudon County, TN, ELS helped emergency responders get to a non-English speaking caller who was struggling to communicate her address.”