Police Minister Paula Bennett, Communications Minister Simon Bridges and Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne, today announced a new caller location system for 111 mobile phone calls that will improve public safety and help save lives.
“The new system will automatically provide emergency services with a probable location of a caller when they dial 111,” Mrs Bennett says.
“It will still be important for 111 callers to tell emergency services operators where they are. 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.”
Each year, there are more than two million calls to emergency services. Last year, more than 80 per cent of calls to 111 were made from a mobile phone, and Police recorded over 1,800 incidents where they had to make a special information request to a network provider for a caller’s location.
“Where people can’t give an accurate address emergency services can experience real difficulty pinpointing the caller’s location,” Mr Dunne says.
“This new system will enable police, fire and ambulance services to respond more quickly to emergency events from mobile phones, as they will have more accurate information about the caller’s location.”
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. For Android devices, Google’s Android Emergency Location service will be used. For all other mobile devices, the approximate location data is provided by the user’s mobile network operator.
“This solution sees New Zealand leading the way in emergency response systems, alongside the United Kingdom and other European countries. New Zealand is the first country outside of Europe to go live with Google’s Android Emergency Location service nationally,” Mr Bridges says.
“Technology is changing the way people and communities interact. As we continue to use technology to improve New Zealand, it’s important that we strike a balance between innovation, security and privacy protection.”
Minister Bridges says 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,” Mr Bridges says.
Further information about the Emergency Caller Location Information system is available, here.