Apple Urged to Enable Emergency Call Location Tool

John Lister's picture

Apple stands accused of failing to enable a potentially life-saving iPhone technology. Advanced Mobile Location (AML), already used in Android handsets, lets emergency services staff know precisely where a caller is located.

The accusation comes from the European Emergency Number Association (EENA), which coordinates the European equivalent of 911 call technology. It already works with Google on AML, which is credited with saving multiple lives.

The idea of AML is that it doesn't require any special action on behalf of the user: there's no need to change settings or install dedicated apps. Instead it is automatically triggered whenever the user dials the relevant emergency number.

Phone Gives Precise Location

Once AML kicks in, the phone will automatically switch on WiFi and GPS, get a precise location and then send the location in a text message to emergency services. They can then use the phone number to match these details to the emergency call, helping response staff know exactly where to go.

The system can track a user down to a six meter radius and even locate an individual apartment in a tower block. That compares to simply using the details of the cell towers that relayed the call, which can be as imprecise as a search radius of nearly 10 miles.

According to EENA, some of the incidents that have already benefited from AML include: hikers who didn't know where they were located; a woman who hit her head while riding a horse, made an emergency call, but wasn't clear-headed enough to describe her location; a seven-year old child who found his father unconscious but didn't know his full address; and a suicidal caller who wouldn't give their location but AML revealed they were on train tracks. (Source:

System Could Cover 96% Of Users

EENA says that so far Apple has not responded to its calls to discuss enabling the technology. It argues that were iOS to carry the feature as well as Android, then 96.8 percent of phone owners in Europe would be covered.

In the meantime, EENA is recommending that users install special apps that have a similar response. However, it insists that AML is the best solution as it covers people who have never thought about such a situation occurring.

According to EENA, the work involved in adding AML to iPhones would not be trivial, but "deploying AML is not an overly complicated task for an operating system provider." (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Should Apple enable AML? If you live outside Europe, would you like to see such a system in your country? Should governments insist mobile manufacturers include such technology, or is that a regulatory step too far?

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Dennis Faas's picture

The big question is whether or not AML will be used by evildoers (such as government agencies and hackers) to continually track individuals carrying cellphones. The answer is: yes, that will surely happen. Although the article doesn't explicitly mention this, I'm sure this is one of the main reasons why Apple has refused to embed the feature into their devices.

jcgrande's picture

It would be a great idea IF they could guarantee that it would only give your location from a user initiated 911 or equivalent call and no other time at all but since that is unlikely I don't think it's worth the risk to your privacy and personal security

dbrumley3077's picture

Perhaps Apple should add AML to the iPhone and then give the owner of the device the option of enabling it in a secure fashion.

Also, are there any known instances of Android handsets being compromised in Europe? I'd think they would be just as leery of being tracked surreptitiously as anyone else.

However, the life-saving potential of this cannot be denied.

matt_2058's picture

What is not mentioned is how much of this is a push by EENA, and how much by customers who actually buy the phone. Are there that many customers demanding the service? Is the EENA a front for those agencies who are interested in using the capability? In the end, it's Apple's decision to implement it or not. And if customers want it, they will let Apple know, either by requests for the service or by buying non-Apple phones.

I'm with the rest of you guys about misuse involving the tracking. It WILL happen.