AML leads to swift recovery of stranded kayakers

Thursday, 14 January, 2021

AML leads to swift recovery of stranded kayakers

Advanced Mobile Location (AML) technology has been used to save stranded kayakers from rough waters at Seacliff in South Australia, pinpointing the pair’s location after a Triple Zero call on New Year’s Eve.

AML speeds up emergency response times for people in need of urgent help, and it proved crucial when two people became caught in strong winds on the kayak approximately 3.2 kilometres offshore and unable to paddle back to safety.

A man on the kayak called Triple Zero, automatically activating AML, which honed in on the remote location with lifesaving accuracy.

“Saving lives is the number one priority for our police and emergency services. This technology further enhances the capability of SAPOL to respond to emergency situations quickly and precisely,” said Police Minister Vincent Tarzia.

“SAPOL Water Operations officers had clear-cut information to work from, allowing them to locate the kayakers quickly and return them home without injury.”

SAPOL is one of the first 13 agencies in Australia to adopt automated AML.

With AML, smartphones use GPS, Wi-Fi and mobile network information to automatically send an SMS text message to Triple Zero with the phone’s estimated location. This SMS is sent in the background; the caller is not required to perform an action.

AML-enabled smartphones recognise when an emergency call is made to Triple Zero. If the smartphone’s location services are switched off at the time the call was initiated, AML will temporarily activate the location service for the duration of the emergency call. When the emergency call has finished, AML will be deactivated.

Across Australia each day, an average of 27,000 emergency calls are made to Triple Zero for police, fire and ambulance assistance. More than 75% of calls come from mobile phones.

“AML is capable of providing a caller’s location within a 5-metre radius outdoors and a 25-metre radius indoors,” Minister Tarzia said.

“If callers have been in a serious crash, or are in shock after an incident, sometimes they cannot identify their surroundings. AML is a game changer that ensures help will be on the way as fast as possible."

AML capability has been automatically activated on Android mobile devices running Android operating system 4.1 and higher with Google Play Services installed.

Apple iPhone users will need to update their operating system to use iOS 14.3 to enable the AML capability within their device. iOS 14.3 is available on the iPhone 6s and above.

Telstra is responsible for the operation of Triple Zero and has been working with Apple and Google to test the technology for iPhone and Android devices, as well as mobile carriers and emergency service organisations across the country.

SAPOL Assistant Commissioner Ian Parrott said AML is incorporated into the South Australia Computer Aided Despatch (SACAD) system and will provide accurate mobile phone location data.

“In other countries across Europe and also the United Kingdom, and New Zealand, we’ve seen a number of lives saved and positive operational outcomes as a result of AML,” Assistant Commissioner Parrott said.

“About 78% of Triple Zero calls come from mobile phones so AML has the potential to save lives by enabling police and other emergency services to respond more efficiently.”

Triple Zero callers are still required to supply their address or location to the emergency operators as a first priority. AML does not replace this need.

Other South Australian emergency services are expected to adopt AML at the end of fire danger season.

Pictured: The red outline indicates the size of the area that traditionally would have been searched in order to locate the kayakers. Instead, AML pinpointed their location to that of the blue dot. Courtesy South Australian Government.

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