Google brings Emergency Location Service to United States with T-Mobile, RapidSOS

A promotional image of Google Emergency Services on a U.S. smartphone

A promotional image of Google Emergency Services on a U.S. smartphone

Android users on T-Mobile in the United States will automatically benefit from this service.

Launched in 2016 and is now available in 14 countries (excluding India), ELS provides accurate locations both indoors and outdoors by using a combination of GPS, Wi-Fi, mobile networks and sensors. The legacy emergency location systems provided a location with a radius of more than 900 meters (about half a mile), while ELS was able to provide a location within 12 meters (39 feet) to help first responders locate the biker, according to a blog post by Jen Chai, Android product manager at Google.

Today, in conjunction with RapidSOS, T-Mobile and West, Google announced that it is bringing ELS to the U.S. ELS data will be sent to emergency call centers through the RapidSOS platform.

The new service uses GPS, Wi-Fi, mobile networks, and sensors to give a precise location when a 911 call is placed.

When Google tested the ELS, participants said that it made it easier for them to find individuals who did not have any clue of their exact location. In the couple years since that introduction, Google has expanded the ELS feature to Android users around the world, brining it to 14 countries.

Google first introduced ELS in 2016 but it was initially only available in the United Kingdom and Estonia because the firm must collaborate with local mobile network operators and emergency services for it to work. And it doesn't require a separate app or any configuration: "Your location is computed on the device and delivered directly to emergency providers, without passing through Google servers, and only when you explicitly call an emergency number", Google explains. This deal is an indication that smartphone OS providers are enhancing the quality of location data that they transfer when a user calls 911.

While nobody wants to make them, it's important that emergency calls are fast and accurate in a time of need.

Hopefully, with this service in place, US citizens will have similar success rates as other countries that already use ELS. "With ELS and RapidSOS, we can actually take action in the emergency communications center to improve the safety of our citizens".

Google clarified that wireless carriers already use location technology to send a caller's location to emergency centers, but the integration of ELS is built on top of that to help deliver higher accuracy faster than before. RapidSOS integrates with existing software at emergency centers in the USA to provide a faster, more accurate location with ELS.

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