An Apple repair and refurbishment center in Elk Grove, California, has placed about 1,600 accidental 911 calls in the past four months, and it's not all clear why.
Jason Jimenez, public information officer at the Elk Grove Police Department, confirmed a report from CBS13 in Sacramento that emergency dispatchers have been submitting approximately 20 of the daily calls since October. They seem to be completely accidental. But they are a nuisance for operators trying to handle real emergency calls, particularly if they come in while an operator is dealing with another situation.
It is unclear why calls are made, or if they come from iPhones or Apple Watches. Both devices are capable of making phone calls, even when they are not connected to a cell phone plan.
The technological giant has been "very receptive," Jiménez said. "It has been diligent to work to solve the problem."
Apple said in a statement that it was aware of the problem with 911 calls since its installation of Elk Grove. "We take this seriously and are working closely with local authorities to investigate the cause and ensure that this does not continue," Apple said.
All cell phones can make emergency calls even when they are not part of a calling plan, as long as they have a signal and enough battery power. But as part of its security features, Apple has made it particularly easy to request emergency services from devices that connect to a cellular network.
To activate an emergency call from Apple on the iPhone 8 or iPhone X, someone has to press the buttons on both sides of the phone simultaneously, which will lets you choose to place a 911 call without unlocking the phone. If you press and hold the buttons continuously, you will be asked in five seconds. On older iPhones, you must press the power button five times. On the watch, holding down the side button triggers a similar response. In both cases, a loud high-pitched noise is heard in the few seconds before the device makes a call.
The number of accidental 911 calls has been increasing with the widespread adoption of smartphones. In 2011, Google researchers studied 911 calls in San Francisco and discovered that 30 percent of wireless phone emergency calls were accidental. That was less than the percentage of wire calls, with an accidental 37 percent.
But wireless calls are more annoying. " This is due to the fact that accidental wireless dials are the result primarily of individuals accidentally dialing 9-1-1 from their cell / smart phones," the newspaper said. "When the dispatcher receives these calls, they only listen to an open line, and they must return the call to the number to leave a voicemail."