Google recently conducted a test on its new location-sharing system meant to identify the location of a 911 caller in order to help shorten the response time for emergency responders. According to a new report by The Wall Street Journal, the search giant worked with West Corp. and RapidSOS to run the experiment, which occurred from December last year until January. During the test, tens of thousands of calls were received by 50 911 call centers located across Texas, Tennessee, and Florida, with the location data of callers having been directly sent to 911 call agents through Android devices that were used to make the call.
It’s worth noting, though, that the location data has an estimated radius of 121 feet, as noted by RapidSOS. Nevertheless, it should also be pointed out that these pieces of location information shared by mapping apps like Google Maps are supposed to be more precise than the data provided by wireless carriers, which typically have the responsibility to share location data. According to RapidSOS, location data delivered by network providers often have an estimated radius of 522 feet. Further to that, in the first 30 seconds of a call during the trial, Google’s location-sharing technology provided more reliable information for over 80-percent of the 911 calls compared to those pieces of information sent by wireless carriers.
For first responders, the tech being tested could help them save a considerable number of lives in danger every year since it shortens the time it takes for them to attend to an emergency situation. More to the point, the technology helps to address a major barrier facing 911 centers: mobile devices make it difficult for call takers to establish the location of callers. Considering that there has been a remarkable increase in the use of smartphones to make 911 calls these days, making it easier for them to locate callers provides some sort of relief both to responders and individuals at risk. This is not the first time that Google provided its own technology to help save lives through location sharing. In April last year, Google-owned Waze inked a partnership with the European Emergency Number Association to let emergency services organizations integrate crowd-sourced data into their own systems. Android Nougat, the predecessor to Android Oreo, also has a feature that lets users store important information on their devices for first responders.