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Android Emergency SOS Update – Reducing 911 Hangups

As you have likely heard there has been a significant uptick in the amount of accidental 911 calls across the country. This started with Apple several years ago and continues to be a problem with Apple since the launch of an emergency SOS feature which dials 911 by pressing the side button of your cell phone five times or more rapidly.

Recently, Android added this same feature, and it amplified the problem exponentially and 911 centers around the country have been flooded with accidental 911 calls.

This last weekend we checked to see if there were any updates on his Android phone and there was an update. After the download, it was discovered that there were updates to the emergency SOS features. While it removed the capability to turn off the emergency SOS feature as was previously a feature, it added a “play warning sound” feature. We did some testing and found that the emergency SOS feature will now sound an audible alarm, but it will not automatically dial unless you confirm you want to dial 911 on your screen. A user can set up a timer so it will automatically dial, but that would have to be done by the user and is not an automatic feature.

We then tested an Apple phone and found that, unfortunately, Apple has still not resolved the problem with Apple devices in that if the Emergency SOS is activated it will eventually call 911, many times without the users' knowledge. We plan to work with state and federal partners to encourage Apple to follow suit with an update of their own.

We are asking that anyone with an Android device, please check to see if there is an update available for your phone, and if so, please allow the phone to update. If an update is not available, please continue to check daily until that update becomes available. Updates push out at varying times depending on your cellular carrier and device model. Our recommendation is to not activate the timer but to leave the phone set as is after the update.

Thank you for assisting our states busy 911 dispatchers in reducing the number of accidental 911 calls both here in Wisconsin and across the country.


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