Location detection of emergency callers improved in NZ

Thursday, 11 May, 2017

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A new caller location system will be implemented for mobile emergency calls in New Zealand.

This new system will automatically provide emergency services with the likely location of a caller when they dial 111.

Each year there are more than two million calls to emergency services, more than 80% of which made from a mobile phone in 2016.

Police recorded over 1800 incidents where they had to make a special information request to a network provider for a caller’s location.

“It will still be important for 111 callers to tell emergency services operators where they are,” said Communications Minister Simon Bridges.

“However, if the caller doesn’t know their address or exact whereabouts, the new system will automatically provide emergency services with a more precise location of a 111 caller than is currently the case.”

The level of location accuracy will still vary depending on a number of factors, such as the type of mobile phone and the location source available.

Bridges said the project team worked closely with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to address any privacy concerns in developing the new system.

“I appreciate that some people may have concerns around privacy, which is why the phone’s location services are switched on only when the 111 call is made and then returned to the caller’s original settings within 25 seconds of the 111 call being initiated. All location data will only be held for 60 minutes and will then be deleted,” Bridges said.

Image credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Martin McCarthy

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