Google adds ‘emergency location service’ to Android devices

27 Jul 2016

Launched in the UK and Estonia, Google’s new ‘emergency location service’ could prove a bit of a game-changer should an international roll-out prove successful.

Claiming that 70pc of all calls to emergency services come from mobile phones, Google hopes its emergency location service will allow responses to become far quicker and more accurate.

Google Emergency Services

Future Human

With current emergency responses reliant on either GPS or cell tower location – which isn’t exactly pin-point accurate – Google hopes this software tool could save lives.

By combining GPS, WiFi data and cell-tower technology, this feature sends a location from your phone to emergency services when you dial an emergency number.

Google maintains that this tool only works when emergency services have been dialled, and that “your precise location is never seen or handled by Google”.

Instead, it goes straight to those there to help.

Google is already hopeful that an international roll-out can be achieved soon, and it is actively engaging with more countries and operators to make this widely available, with 99pc of Android devices capable of supporting the upgrade.

“Accurate emergency location can be the difference between life and death,” said Akshay Kannan, product manager at Google.

“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’.”

So, in the UK and Estonia for now, the police, fire brigade and ambulance services can each, theoretically, respond to calls in a far more efficient manner.

Main ambulance image via Tommy Alven/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic