Last month, Apple announced the availability of Emergency SOS via satellite service to customers in the US and Canada for iPhone 14 series users. The service is now available to users in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Ireland as of today.
Emergency SOS via satellite
Emergency SOS via satellite builds on existing iPhone features, including Emergency SOS, Medical ID, emergency contacts, and Find My Location sharing, by connecting to a satellite to communicate important information with emergency services, family, and friends. This game-changing solution connects customers to relay center’s staffed by Apple-trained emergency specialists who may contact PSAPs on their behalf to seek their help.
How Emergency SOS via Satellite Works
If a user is unable to contact emergency services due to a lack of cellular or Wi-Fi coverage, an easy-to-use interface opens on the iPhone to help the user via a satellite link. Apple worked closely with experts to look at common questions and ways to find out what the most common reasons were for calling 911.
A short questionnaire seems to help the user answer important questions with just a few taps. This information is sent to dispatchers in the first message, so they can quickly figure out where the user is. The questionnaire and follow-up messages are delivered via satellite to Apple-trained personnel, who can call for aid. The user’s emergency contacts can also be notified.
Apple says that even short signals can take a few minutes to reach satellites, since they move quickly and have minimal bandwidth. Apple produced specialized components and software to let the iPhone 14 connect to satellite bands without a large antenna. A text compression system was developed to reduce message size by three times, making the experience faster.
Furthermore, the firm added that in clear conditions, Emergency SOS users can send and receive messages in 15 seconds. Using the built-in Emergency SOS via satellite demo, iPhone users can test satellite connectivity by connecting to a real satellite in range without dialing emergency services.
Users who are out of cellular or Wi-Fi range can use Find My to transmit their location via satellite. Open the ‘Me tab’ in Find My, swipe up to My Location via Satellite, and press Send My Location. The iPhone 14 satellite connection works with Crash Detection and Fall Detection.
Starting today, Emergency SOS via satellite and Find My via satellite are available in France, Germany, Ireland, and the UK. The service is free for two years, starting at the time of activation of a new iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max.
Find My iPhone and Emergency SOS via satellite require iOS 16.1 or later. Apple mentions that support for more countries will follow next year.
Speaking about the technology, Jan Tino Demel, the Expert Group for Control Center Technology and Emergency Calls Committee’s chairman, said:
Emergency SOS via satellite will improve the situation for people who are in trouble and outside of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage, allowing them to reach emergency services and get help in emergency situations.
The function can be used immediately without any adjustments to existing systems. With highly qualified, multilingual emergency specialists, Apple facilitates the transfer of emergency calls to the responsible rescue or police control centre. Without a doubt, this can save lives.
Commenting on the service, Michael Kelly, BT Ireland’s Head of the Emergency Call Answering Service, said:
Emergency SOS via satellite is a major innovation that will save lives by helping iPhone 14 users in remote areas who might not otherwise be able to reach emergency services.
Because Apple has implemented a model that emergency operators are familiar with, we can expect a seamless rollout for our operators and emergency service partners.