Emergency Stories May 10, 2021
Emergency Stories December 2, 2019
Apple, Samsung, and other tech giants need to consult emergency services before implementing features that automatically place 911 calls. The plea has come from EENA, an organization representing more than 1,500 emergency services in over 80 countries.
It says that although features like Fall Detection on the Apple Watch and Auto-call for Emergency SOS on the iPhone are well-intentioned and have been credited with saving a great many people, they can also cost lives…
Emergency Stories July 13, 2018
Prepare to receive more emergency alerts on your iPhone, but there’s no cause for panic
The US government’s Emergency Alert System (EAS) is, unfortunately, probably best known for the false alarm in Hawaii back in January. Residents of the island were woken by a loud alarm sound and a message stating that ballistic missiles were on the way …
Emergency Stories June 12, 2018
Volunteer firefighters now get access to FirstNet prioritized data service [Video]
If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to be close to the scene of a major emergency, you’ll know that mobile networks quickly get congested …
Emergency Stories April 26, 2018
An organization representing emergency services in more than 80 countries worldwide has argued that apps can be a better way to report an emergency than making a call.
The European Emergency Number Association (EENA) made the suggestion as it announced that emergency apps designed for use in one European country will in future work across borders …
Emergency Stories January 25, 2018
An organization representing emergency services in more than 80 countries worldwide has said that Apple adding Advanced Mobile Location (AML) in iOS 11.3 is ‘huge news,’ having previously estimated that it would result in saving around 7500 lives over the next ten years …
Emergency Stories August 28, 2017
Update: The NYPD has issued a statement in which it says the phones were provided as part of a contract that allowed it to change devices after two years, and that it will begin the switch to iPhone in the fall. It claims that the phones were provided ‘at no cost’ but does not explain how they were paid for.
The New York Police Department is being forced to scrap 36,000 Windows Phones bought just two years ago as part of a $160M mobility project. The move has been forced by Microsoft’s decision to cease support for the platform as of last month.
The NYPD now plans to replace the phones with iPhones by the end of the year, according to a report …
Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon are all offering free service in areas hit by Hurricane Harvey as they describe the efforts they are making to keep networks up and running, while AT&T issues credits.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says that across the entire region, 96% of cell sites are working, though only 5% of sites are operational in Rockport, Texas, near where the hurricane made landfall …
Emergency Stories August 10, 2017
Emergency services organizations around the world are calling on Apple to implement a location feature which they say would save thousands of lives.
Advanced Mobile Location (AML) is a capability built into carrier networks which can automatically identify the exact position of someone making a emergency call with pin-point accuracy. Google added support for it in Android last year, but Apple has so far not responded to requests to implement it in iOS …
Emergency Stories April 18, 2017
Smartphone use while driving may explain end to 40-year decline in road deaths
Smartphone use while driving may explain last year’s reversal to a 40-year decline in U.S. road deaths, it has been suggested.
Emergency Stories June 7, 2016
Mother uses Hey Siri to call ambulance while performing CPR on 1-year-old daughter
An Australian mother used the Hey Siri function of her iPhone 6s to call for an ambulance while performing CPR on her 1-year-old daughter who had stopped breathing.
Emergency Stories March 10, 2016
While the patent wording doesn’t specifically name either the Apple Watch or iPhone, the meaning of one electronic device cooperating with another one seems pretty clear.
An occurrence of one or more “care events” is detected by an electronic device monitoring environmental data and/or user data from one or more sensors. The electronic device transmits one or more alerts regarding the detected occurrence to at least one other electronic device. In some cases, the electronic device may cooperate with at least one other electronic device in monitoring, detecting, and/or transmitting.
Apple says that the setup could detect a range of emergencies, and take appropriate action depending on the severity – ranging from sending an email to a family member at the low end to calling 911 in the most urgent of cases …
Emergency Stories November 20, 2015
We reported recently on an Apple patent application for a ‘panic mode‘ on an iPhone, where using a specific finger on the Touch ID sensor could do anything from locking down the phone to calling 911 and starting audio and video recording.
There are pros & cons to the idea, of course, with one 911 operator saying that a similar Blackberry function has resulted in “thousands and thousands” of false emergency calls, each of which have to be treated as real calls for help until demonstrated otherwise.
But if we waited until someone manually dialled 911, it seems to me that there’s merit in some of the other ideas … expand full story
Emergency Stories November 5, 2015
The USPTO has today published a patent application by Apple to allow a specific fingerprint to activate a ‘panic mode’ on an iPhone, designed for use when the owner feels threatened, is in danger or is being forced to unlock their phone.
In its most basic form, placing a specific finger on the Touch ID button would place the iPhone into a special locked-down mode, blocking access to personal data store on the phone – perhaps simulating a brand new phone. In that way, if a street robber forced you to unlock your phone before handing it over, your data would be safe.
But the patent application goes far beyond this … expand full story
Emergency Stories August 25, 2014
When someone’s heart stops, there are just minutes to save them from brain damage or death; by the time medics arrive, it can be too late. This is the problem former San Ramon Valley Fire Department chief Richard Price set out to solve with the crowdsourced iOS app, PulsePoint.
Price came up with the idea for the app after a tragedy that happened feet from where he was sitting, reports Re/code.
He was off-duty at a local deli when he heard sirens. Emergency vehicles pulled up and he rushed outside to see what was going on. A man in a shop next door had collapsed and emergency responders were unable to revive him.
“He was on the other side of the wall, I couldn’t see him,” Price says. “He lay there unconscious with no one doing CPR. I had a (automated defibrillator) nearby in my vehicle.”
Emergency Stories May 29, 2014
Crowd-sourced crime-reporting and safety app Tapshield goes public
A crowd-sourced crime-reporting and safety app trialled on selected university campuses has now been rolled out to everyone. Tapshield allows real-time viewing of crime stats and suspicious activity in an area, and allows you to summon help when in trouble.
An award-winning mobile safety app and response dashboard, TapShield uses collaboration and crowd-sourcing to build safer communities & improve response times. Think of TapShield as your social safety network with you wherever you want to go.
The way the app works is that users can report crimes in progress and anything else they spot that concerns them, and those locations and incidents are then automatically shown to other Tapshield users in the area.
When a crime is reported, Tapshield sends a message to campus security when used within one of the participating colleges, and dials 911 when used elsewhere. You also have the option of sending a non-emergency alert to police when you see something that concerns you but which doesn’t justify an immediate emergency response – such as a bunch of street lights out, leaving a path in darkness.
If you have to make a journey that concerns you, you can specify your route and ETA and allow family and friends to follow your journey remotely, raising the alarm if you go off-route or don’t reach your destination when expected.
Finally, the app has a ‘yank’ mode, which automatically sends an alert if headphones are forcibly pulled from the device, such as when your phone is snatched by a thief.
Tapshield is a free download from iTunes.
Emergency Stories May 16, 2014
The four largest carriers now support texting 911, but most emergency call centers don’t
When the FCC set a voluntary deadline of yesterday for putting in place technology to allow people to text 911, all four of the main national carriers complied. But since most emergency call centres aren’t yet equipped to receive texts, don’t expect to be using it any time soon.
The FCC said that the ability to text 911 could be a life-saver for those with hearing or speech impairments, as well as in situations where it might be dangerous to make a phone call – while a crime is in progress and the perpetrator within earshot, for example.
But the wireless trade association, the CTIA, warned that even where 911 texting is supported, it’s still impossible to guarantee immediate delivery of texts. We’ve all experienced examples of texts that arrive the next day, so the advice remains to make a voice call wherever possible.
The FCC has uploaded a list of emergency call centres accepting 911 texts. If you attempt to text 911 in an area where the service is not supported, you’ll get a text bounce-back. Needless to say, please do not test the service.
Emergency Stories February 5, 2014
German patent troll demands $2B from Apple for using a mandatory emergency phone standard
Demands from patent trolls – companies that invent nothing, but simply buy up patents in order to demand cash – are just a fact of life for any large company, and Apple doubtless receives hundreds of them each year. Some are, however, audacious than others.
The WSJ reports that German patent troll IPCom is demanding €1.57B ($2.12B) for use technology that is not only used in every mobile phone on the market, its use is required by law.
The chip is used to identify mobile phones used by the emergency services in order to give them priority access to networks when they are heavily congested, such as during a major disaster. Carriers can set their networks to block access to all phones in the vicinity of a major emergency other than those identifying themselves as belonging to police and rescue workers. The chip can be included in the circuitry of either a phone or a SIM.
Apple, Google, HTC, Ericsson and Vodafone had all asked the European Patent Office to declare the patent invalid, as it was part of a required standard. The EPO turned down this request after IPCom said that it had successfully sued other companies, including Nokia.
The case is now going to court, and will be heard on 11th February.