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Google adds Emergency Location Service to Android, live in UK and Estonia

If you call emergency services, you want them to know exactly where you are, and now Android has the tools to make that happen. Unlike landlines, smartphones do not provide an accurate location to emergency services even though over 70% of emergency calls are made on mobile phones.

While carriers have to do some work to add this feature, mobile operating systems also have to add support. It turns out that an Emergency Location Service has already been added to Android. It uses the same Wi-Fi, GPS, and cell towers that most apps use to produce “a more reliable emergency location both indoors and outdoors.”

When you call in an emergency with this service active, your location will automatically be transmitted directly to first responders (without passing through Google). It can use GPS, network, and WiFi location for the most accurate reading.

Our service is already live today for people with Android phones in the UK and in Estonia. We’ve collaborated with several mobile network operators and emergency services to make this possible – Google

This feature is being deployed as part of Google Play Services, so you won’t need to do anything to enable it. It will, however, require proper carrier and emergency services support. That’s why it’s only in the UK and Estonia right now. Why those are the two first countries is not clear, but Google says it wants to expand the Emergency Location Service to more regions later. Over 99% of Android devices are theoretically able to support this feature via Play Services (Gingerbread and up), but carriers and emergency services need to work with Google before it can expand to more markets.

This feature is solely for the use of emergency service providers, and location is never seen or handled by Google. It is sent from your handset to emergency services only when you explicitly place an emergency call, either directly or through your mobile network.

Source: Google Europe

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