In brief: More than 80 percent of emergency calls now originate from mobile phones but pinpointing their location can be tricky, especially indoors. With ELS, emergency call centers will automatically receive accurate location data to help send first responders in the right direction.
Google in 2016 announced Emergency Location Service (ELS) support for Android. The feature, now available in 14 countries and servicing 140,000 calls per day, uses a combination of Wi-Fi, GPS, mobile networks and sensor data to send accurate location data to emergency communications centers when a user places a call for help. The idea is to help save lives by shortening emergency response times through more accurate location sharing.
On Wednesday, Google announced the launch of ELS in the US through a partnership with T-Mobile, RapidSOS and West.
T-Mobile users with an Android device in the US will have their location data routed to call centers. There’s no need to install a separate app, update your operating system or have special hardware as ELS is automatically supported on 99 percent of Android devices (so long as you’re running version 4.0 or newer).
In the US Virgin Islands, the service will work through a partnership with West and regional wireless carrier Viya.
Google notes that location data is computed on a device and delivered directly to emergency providers – never passing through Google servers – and only when you place an emergency call. Apple’s new iOS 12 features a similar location-sharing feature for 911 calls.