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Emergency services inundated by false alarms from skiers’ iPhones

It’s likely that the feature was triggered by the extreme acceleration and jerks that happen while skiing (Picture: Unsplash)

The crash detection feature on the new iPhone is getting confused again and this time it’s skiers who are accidentally setting it off.

Last week, an emergency response centre in a ski town in Colorado fielded 71 automated crash notifications from the iPhones of skiers in the area, as reported by the Colorado Sun.

None of the crash notifications sent from skiers’ iPhones and Apple watches involved an emergency.

The accidental alerts still presented a drain on resources as ski patrollers would be sent to check the location of the automated call.

‘We are not in the practice of disregarding calls,’ Trina Dummer, the interim director of the Summit County 911 Center told the Colorado Sun.

iPhone crash detection

None of the crash notifications sent from skiers’ iPhones and Apple watches involved an emergency (Picture: Apple)

‘These calls involve a tremendous amount of resources, from dispatchers to deputies to ski patrollers. And I don’t think we’ve ever had an actual emergency event,’

Since 911 calls are handled in the order they arrive, an automated call from a skier’s phone could delay response to a 911 caller with an actual emergency.

‘We are absolutely diverting essential resources away from people who need it toward a feature on a phone,’ said Dummer.

Crash Detection is a new safety feature that’s arrived with Apple’s iPhone 14 lineup and the new Apple Watch Ultra, Series 8, and SE 2.

When an iPhone detects that the user has been in a ‘severe car crash’, Apple says it will display an alert and will automatically initiate an emergency phone call after 20 seconds unless you cancel it.

Apple crash detection

The crash detection feature on the new iPhone is getting confused again and this time it’s skiers who are accidentally setting it off (Picture: Apple)

It’s likely that the feature was triggered by the extreme acceleration and jerks that happen while skiing, tricking the phone’s sensors into thinking a crash had occurred.

In October, people from several different amusement parks across the US reported their iPhones placing calls to emergency services during rollercoaster rides.

‘If you are unresponsive, your iPhone will play an audio message for emergency services, which informs them that you’ve been in a severe crash and gives them your latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates with an approximate search radius,’ explains Apple’s website.

At the time of the launch, Apple had assured that the feature would only be triggered when people were actually driving and got into a crash, so simply dropping the phone or falling shouldn’t trigger it.

But it looks like the tech giant didn’t factor in thrill seekers on rollercoasters or ski slopes bringing their iPhones with them.

The feature has still been useful in alerting alerts cops of accidents like the crash killing six people in the US in October.


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