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Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons License. L By Robinseed - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47544828
30 Nov 2022

Sudden stops or non urgent falls can trigger smartphone to make emergency calls - overwhelming dispatch centers

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They have increased the sensitivity of the crash detection on their watches and phones, so skiers are taking routine falls on the mountain and it's alerting our center to a possible car crash...on the mountain.

Newer smartphones and Apple watches have been reported to make "fake" emergency calls automatically, when the user has a certain safety feature enabled. Any sudden stop can cause the phone to interpret it as a crash, potentially overwhelming dispatch centers.   

The Summit County 9/11 Dispatch Center in Colorado has lately been receiving 40 - 60 inappropriate emergency calls per day, according to a recent article on CBS News.   

Many of the calls have been from people engage in alpine skiing, and the phones trigger the calls when the skier either takes a fall, or even comes to a very abrupt stop from high speed.  The phones and some watches have GPS-systems capable of measuring any change in speed, which the devices can misinterpret as a crash. 

Summit County Director 911 Trina Dummer says to the new station that she wants to give the public a warning  some versions of Apple Watches and iPhone 14s have a system on them that automatically sends a 911 (112)  call if they detect a crash. 

Many of these calls have not been real emergencies, and the local emergency dispatch center has been overwhelmed with these "fake", unintentional calls.  

The calls have been people crashing while skiing but being fine or even stopping too suddenly while skiing", according to the article.   

The phones gives users 20 seconds to disable the feature before actually making the automated call, but often that is not nearly enough time. 

Mark Watson, Summit County Sheriff special ops sergeant, said he believes it's because people are trying to keep their tech warm on the ski slopes by keeping them in their backpacks or in inner pockets inside of their coats. 

Tom Dale, the dispatch supervisor for the Clear Creek County 911 Call Center said they're getting fake calls daily too on Loveland Ski Resort. 

"They have increased the sensitivity of the crash detection on their watches and phones, so skiers are taking routine falls on the mountain and it's alerting our center to a possible car crash...on the mountain."

 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons License. L By Robinseed - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47544828