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.