A 911 dispatch center in Colorado fielded 71 separate automated crash notifications from iPhones and Apple Watches belonging to skiers in the county last weekend, none of which were actual emergencies.
The Colorado Sun reports that 71 automatic calls went to the Summit County 911 Center from four separate ski areas, triggered automatically by the crash detection feature in iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro, and the new Apple Watch Series 8.
The center's interim director said that each call involved "a tremendous amount of resources" to answer, with ski patrollers sent to check the locations of calls if the skier did not answer the return call.
Crash detection havoc
This isn't the first time Apple's new crash detection feature has played havoc with emergency responders. Earlier this year it emerged that the iPhone 14's feature was being triggered by some rollercoasters.
"All of the automated 911 calls from skiers pouring into ski town emergency call centers this month — with a robot voice sharing latitude and longitude coordinates of a potentially injured party — were about snowy tumbles," the report states.
The report notes that operators in Grand, Eagle, Pitkin, Routt, and Summit counties are fielding "record numbers of automated calls," tying up the resources of emergency responders. Because the calls are answered in the order they come, automated false alarms are delaying responses to real emergencies.
“We are absolutely diverting essential resources away from people who need it toward a feature on a phone,” Summit County's director said.
Pitkin County 911 now gets 15 to 20 automated calls a day from skiers, not one of which has been a real emergency on the ski slopes. Dispatch Center director Brett Loeb said they have spoken to Apple about the crash detection issue and Apple says a fix is on the way in the first quarter of 2023.
Vail Police department reported a similar number of automated calls in a day, however, there was one instance earlier this week where two phones simultaneously pinged 911 dispatch after being involved in a car crash.
Apple's Crash Detection feature is new to iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro, as well as the Apple Watch Series 8 and Ultra. Apple's new iPhone also includes a new Emergency SOS feature via a satellite that can contact emergency services without a cellular signal.
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Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.
Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9