The latest iPhone 14 series phones have a deeply cool feature that may have already saved a life. The feature is Emergency SOS via Satellite. And a new report claims it may already, less than a month after it went live, have saved a life.
According to a report by Alaska Department of Public Safety, State Troopers, picked up by MacRumors, a man became stranded on a snowmachine and contacted emergency services via satellite.
Let’s take a step back for a second. This is a really remarkable feature, so that your slim, pocketable iPhone can send an emergency message even if you’re way out of cellular coverage. Of course, you have to be standing outdoors, but it still blows my mind. And one of the reasons it does is that to contact a satellite, you need to be pointing right at it and, unless your eyesight is considerably better than mine, they’re just not visible.
Of course, Apple has thought of this and provides software which guides you so that you know just which part of the sky you need to be pointing at.
Anyway, back to Alaska. At around 2:00 AM on Thursday, December 1, the report says:
“Alaska State Troopers were notified that an adult male traveling via snowmachine from Noorvik to Kotzebue had activated an Apple iPhone Emergency SOS via satellite on his iPhone after becoming stranded. Working with local search and rescue teams, the Apple Emergency Response Center, and the Northwest Arctic Borough Search and Rescue Coordinator, the NWAB SAR deployed four volunteer searchers to the Nimiuk Point area directly to the GPS coordinates provided by the Apple Emergency Response Center. The adult male was located and transported to Kotzebue by the volunteer search team. There were no injuries reported to Troopers.”
I don’t know the Noorvik climate intimately, you understand, but being stranded in the early hours of a December morning doesn’t sound ideal, to say the least.
According to MacRumors, Troopers who helped with the rescue were “impressed with the accuracy and completeness of information included in the initial alert.”
What’s also impressive is that Apple has warned that the service may not work in places above 62° latitude, and the Alaskan locations are considerably above that, at 69°.
This ground-breaking smartphone feature is about to go live in more locations, including the U.K. At first, I’d thought that this was a very niche item on Apple’s feature list, but given that a life may have been saved just weeks after it went live, I’d say it’s rather more important than that.