Apple’s Crash Detection safety feature is sending false alerts again, inundating 911 dispatchers in a Colorado ski town with automated calls.
Apple‘s Crash Detection feature on iPhones and Apple Watches sent out dozens of false alerts last weekend, leaving 911 dispatchers at a Colorado ski town inundated with automated calls. Apple introduced Crash Detection on the iPhone 14 series in Sept. 2022. The emergency feature is also available on the Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch SE 2, and Apple Watch Ultra. Crash Detection uses a combination of sensors on these devices to detect when a user has been in a severe car crash and automatically dial emergency services. Unfortunately, it’s also been notorious for sending out false alerts.
Apple’s devices sent out 71 automated crash alerts to Summit County’s 911 Center over the past weekend, none of which were for an actual emergency, The Colorado Sun reports. The automated calls dialed 911 and informed dispatchers about a potential accident and the person’s latitude and longitude, but upon investigation, all of these “accidents” turned out to be tumbles in the snow and not a deadly car crash. It’s quite common for skiers to trip and fall down slopes, and it’s likely that the velocity and following impact is falsely triggering the sensors on iPhones and Apple Watches.
A Drain On Emergency Resources
Unfortunately, the false alerts are a huge waste of time and resources for the dispatchers who can’t afford to ignore these calls. Trina Drummer, interim director at Summit County 911 Center, said, “These calls involve a tremendous amount of resources, from dispatchers to deputies to ski patrollers. And I don’t think we’ve ever had an actual emergency event.” For each robocall received, dispatchers attempted to contact the skier. If they didn’t receive an answer, ski patrollers were sent to check the location of the call for a potential accident.
While this in itself is a huge drain on resources, what’s more worrying is that 911 emergencies are handled in the order that they come in. This means that responses to real emergencies could be delayed while investigating a false alert from an Apple device. Summit County wasn’t the only one in the area inundated with calls. The Colorado Sun reports that operators in Grand, Eagle, Pitkin, and Routt counties, all of which house popular ski slopes, are dealing with an unprecedented number of calls from Apple devices.
Skiers aren’t the only ones triggering Crash Detection. Earlier this year, there were reports about Crash Detection sending false alarms from rollercoasters, calling first responders and users’ emergency contacts to inform them that they’d been in a car accident. It’s clear that Apple needs to improve the accuracy of the feature, but that might be difficult to do, given how the sensor data is collected. In the meantime, Colorado dispatchers have voiced their concerns to Apple, which has reportedly promised to roll out a fix in the first quarter of 2023.
More: How To Use Emergency SOS Via Satellite On Your iPhone 14
Source: The Colorado Sun