Google to Assist Emergency Services by Providing your Location

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Google is now in the emergency services business. And no, it is not going to use the Google car to take accident victims to the nearest hospital. Google will assist emergency services by providing the location of panicked callers.

Google has valid reasons for providing this information to emergency services. As Google explained it in a blog post, when you call 999 during an emergency, the most important information is the location of the emergency. Most people nowadays call for emergency services from their smartphones. Unfortunately locating the devices can be problematic at times.

Emergency services depend on cell tower location, with a radius of several kilometres, or GPS, which may not work indoors. “To combat this location issue, we incorporated an Emergency Location Service in Android.” The feature, if supported by your network, will send the location of the phone to emergency service providers when you dial their emergency numbers. The Emergency Location Service uses the same tech apps use to get your exact location. It uses GPS, Wi-Fi, or cell towers to provide a location even when the caller is indoors.

Sounds convenient, right? The Android feature will help emergency services a lot considering most emergency callers are indoors and assisted GPS location rarely works indoors.

Most people who will learn of this feature will have privacy and security concerns. Many people prefer not disclosing their locations without good reason. Some people will abuse the Emergency Location Feature by calling emergency services for reasons that are not emergencies like loud music at a neighbour’s house. Criminals would also be in danger were the service used by their enemies to expose their much-cherished layers.

However, Google assures that this service is “exclusively for the use of emergency services providers”. Google pointed out that it does not see or use the location information provided by the feature. The location information is sent from your smartphone to emergency services only when you dial an emergency number directly or through your cellular network provider, explained Akshay Kannan, a Google, product manager.

According to the owner of the world’s largest mobile operating system, the Emergency Location Service is present in over 99% of all Android devices. The feature is on all devices with Android 2.3 or later. The feature is in Google Play Services. The function is only active if your mobile network provider or emergency infrastructure provider supports it. You do not have to think about installing the essential tool from Google.

The Emergency Location Service is live in 999 calls in both England and Estonia.