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Google Emergency Location Service is All About High Accuracy Tracking

Google is now rolling out the service in the US, and has partnered with T-Mobile. The ELS is designed to pinpoint your exact location and share it with emergency responders when you call 911 from an Android device.

Vishal Mathur | News18.com@vishalmathur85

Updated:September 20, 2018, 9:42 AM IST
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Google Emergency Location Service is All About High Accuracy Tracking
Google is now rolling out the service in the US, and has partnered with T-Mobile. The ELS is designed to pinpoint your exact location and share it with emergency responders when you call 911 from an Android device.
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Google is now making the Google Emergency Location Service available in the US and is partnering with emergency technology companies RapidSOS and West, and cellular operator T-Mobile. If you own an Android device in the US and are using T-Mobile’s services to call the 911 emergency number, you will now be able to access this service. The ELS service uses the GPS, Wi-Fi, mobile network data as well as the data from the sensors in your phone, to identify your exact location, both indoors and outdoors, to share with emergency services. The accuracy is the same as that of Google Maps. The service was first announced in 2016, and Google says it handles as many as 140,000 calls per day in the regions it is available in.

The best thing about ELS is that as an Android phone user, you don’t need to download a separate app or go about trying to activate or deactivate a service. It is switched on by default, as long as your phone runs Android 4.0 or newer. This is a part of the Google Play Services installed on the phone. All the data that needs to be sent to the emergency services is shared automatically, with no manual input required by the user.

“In testing the technology in the U.S., emergency centers have told us ELS has already helped save lives in their jurisdiction, decreasing the average uncertainty radius from 159 meters to 37 meters (from 522 feet to 121 feet),” says Jen Chai, Product Manager, Android, Google, in an official statement.

There could be the debate about user privacy, and how Google may be tracking your location. The company is quick to point out that the location that is computed on the Android device is delivered directly to emergency providers—without passing through Google servers, and is shared only when you explicitly call an emergency number.

At present, Apple devices running iOS 11.3 or newer also support advanced mobile location services, as of earlier this year. The AML was standardised by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).
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