Google and T-Mobile team up for better 911 caller location data


Google and T-Mobile are teaming up to make 911 calls better for cellphone users.

Google is launching Emergency Location Services (ELS) with Android in the U.S., and T-Mobile is a partner in the launch. When an Android phone calls 911 and ELS is used, the phone sends a location to the emergency communications center using a combination of GPS, Wi-Fi, mobile networks, and sensors, giving you the same kind of location data that you’d get when using Google Maps.

Carriers like T-Mobile already have ways to share locations with emergency centers, but by integrating ELS, the centers will get more accurate location data and they’ll get it faster than they did before. Google told the Wall Street Journal that it tested its ELS tech in emergency call centers earlier this year and found that it reduced the average radius in which a caller might be located from 522 feet down to 121 feet.

T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray says that T-Mo has been working with Google for four years to implement ELS.

ELS is supported on Android devices running 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and above, which means it works on 99 percent of Android devices. You don’t need a separate app, update, or any special hardware to benefit. Your location is computed on your device and delivered directly to emergency providers when you call an emergency number, without passing through Google’s servers.

Location data for 911 calls has long been an issue with smartphones, and as more and more people rely exclusively on their cellphone for communication, it’s become more important to get more accurate location data to emergency call centers. It’s great to see Google and T-Mobile teaming up on this effort and giving Android users some peace of mind with more accurate location data should they ever need to call emergency services.

Source: Google

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  • Suleman Rana

    Anyone get any email about their iPhone shipping yet?

    • Jason Caprio

      Wrong topic, buddy

  • Kevna

    If Google is teaming up with T-mobile for this, does this mean T-Mobile might get the Pixel 3?

    • steveb944

      Nothing to do with each other, considering they have been working on this for 4 years.

  • GracefullyParanoid

    I really need to see the permissioning on this. I share as little to no data with google as possible and would like to see what information they have access to regarding this. Google is evil.

    • Roderick Knighten

      1. ELS is handled by Play Services so it’s a system level process. Permissions wont be granular.
      2. Its the same information that your device collects when you use Google Maps or location services: GPS, Wi-Fi, cell towers, and bluetooth/sensors.
      3. Google isn’t evil. Like other large Corporations beholden only to the shareholders; they just have questionable ethics and morals.

  • JG

    ELS simply improves how my phone sends the location data to the 911 call center right.

    Or is it a new system that figures out where I am better than current methods do? If this is the case, would it be possible to implement the new improvements to standard use, rather than just for emergencies? Assuming of course it wouldn’t cause issue with someone needing it for an actual emergency.

  • steveb944

    Safest network?
    I always assumed they did this with smartphones.