EENA: Apple should consult with emergency services before tech calls 911

Apple Watch
Apple Watch (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • EENA wants tech companies to work with emergency services.
  • Apple Watch can automatically call 911 if needed.
  • But it doesn't always go according to plan..

The European Emergency Number Association (EENA) represents thousands of European emergency services in more than 80 countries. And it wants companies like Apple to consult emergency services before employing technology that can automatically call 911.

Apple Watch features Fall Detection which can already call emergency services if it believes it is required, and it's already been shown to have saved lives. And the EENA has itself shared a tweet (via 9to5Mac) in which an 80-year-old woman suffered a fall.

But the tweets continued, with an example of when things go wrong shortly following.

The tweets went on to link to a new EENA initiative to help bring emergency services and tech companies together to help make sure everything is working optimally.

Many wearables, connected devices and more, now count with special built-in features that can detect emergencies and also communicate with emergency services. But these same emergency services are often not involved in the development of these features, which can result in flawed communications. Data sometimes cannot be processed at emergency response centres, together with an increase of emergency alerts due to false alarms.

The page also notes that it's possible people could be put in danger by poorly implemented systems. The same systems that were put into place to keep them safe.

This lack of adequate communications is a consequence not anticipated by tech companies, which can hinder the work of emergency services. Without companies being aware of it, there is a possibility that users in danger can be expecting help that will not arrive because the information has not been processed by emergency services.

The EENA has invited tech companies to reach out to start a conversation. Now we wait to see whether or not that happens.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.