During the Christmas season and at the turn of the year, emergency services, especially in the USA, had a lot of unnecessary work because the new car accident detection in the four iPhone 14 models, the Apple Watch Series 8 and the Apple Watch Ultra failed. The problem has existed for several months, although the manufacturer had already tweaked the algorithm with an update. But apparently that wasn’t enough.
Stressful ski weekend for rescuers
So reported a local newspaper from Colorado of a whopping 71 false alarms in a single weekend. What they all had in common was that they were triggered by people who were out on skis – and not in a vehicle that had been involved in an accident. According to the head of the emergency call center, the automated calls to the emergency number – in the USA this is “911” – could not be ignored. “It’s not our custom to ignore the calls.” The 911 calls required “an enormous amount of resources, from the dispatcher to the deputy sheriff to the ski patrols.” Worse, she doesn’t believe “that we ever had a real emergency.”
Previously there had been reports of users of roller coasters in amusement parks where the accident detection function was unwanted. However, they have long been advised to hand in their smartphones beforehand. It remains unclear what exactly causes accident detection to give false alarms, especially on ski slopes. The algorithm may interpret fast descents as car journeys. In addition to accident detection, the Apple Watch’s fall detection, which has been available for several years, also ensures unwanted emergency calls.
User can intervene
Actually, users can still intervene before the rescue services are actually alerted: the watch or iPhone show a countdown that can be canceled. However, this is apparently either ignored or ignored. If this is the case, an automated call is made that gives the geo-coordinates of the “victim” to the authorities. Rescuers in Colorado are unnerved because they now have to devote resources to events that don’t pose a threat – while actual casualties may be reached later.
Other regions in the US are reporting similar issues. Apple has not yet commented on this, but has been informed. “We spoke to Apple about this fall and they let us know that they are aware of the issue and are working on a fix that they plan to release in the first quarter of 2023,” a rescue coordinator told the Colorado Sun.
Tag: iphone design, iphone 14, apple iphone, iphone release