Apple’s recently launched crash detection service has created widespread awareness of smartphone-based crash detection. While we commend Apple for raising the visibility of the smartphone’s safety capabilities, unfortunately, much of the awareness created by Apple has been negative.
Online and media sources are heavily reporting that the iPhone 14 (the 14 and the Apple Watch are the only devices supporting Apple’s crash detection) is generating large numbers of false positive crash events (crashes that aren’t crashes). These detections are causing the phones to contact emergency response centers about non-existent emergencies, flooding already stressed dispatch and emergency services.
This is currently happening with a statistical preponderance on ski slopes, where skiers are simply skiing. But their routine impacts are setting off Apple’s crash detection service, sending emergency requests to responders, who report that these requests are threatening the timely response of real emergencies.
[Read GearJunkie article for an in-depth and fascinating look at what is happening.]
At Sfara, we’ve been talking about the dangers of false positives for years and have developed the technology to nearly eliminate them. But much of the industry is stuck in the past, using easy-to-implement, but inferior and incomplete methodologies.
Crash detection (or impact detection) must be considered and treated as different and separate from false positive suppression, which is an entirely different science. It is the combination of these two disciplines that forms a complete solution. Given the telematics background of our founders here at Sfara, we focused since our inception on integrating false positive suppression into every process, methodology and technology we employ. We call this our Integrated Suppression Framework.
Until now, the dangers of false positives from existing solutions with lower distributions have remained hidden, with negative incidents occurring in limited numbers and without press coverage. But the more visible iPhone 14 launch has revealed the weaknesses that can occur with these types of solutions.
In a few months, the problem will move from the ski slopes to golf courses (golf carts) or amusement parks (roller coasters). Sooner or later, this will turn into a serious issue, as dispatchers in more varied locations get bogged down responding to non-emergencies.
Mobile crash detection is important to the growth and economics of several important industries, such as the insurance industry, where carriers are moving towards claims automation, a process that begins with accurate crash detection at low speeds and energy levels.
We share the commendable vision that all consumers should have personal safety solutions on their smartphones. Therefore, it’s vital to eliminate issues at early milestones before they tarnish public opinion.
This is a case where the industry must take a stand, by rejecting and replacing existing, outdated crash detection solutions, as they are putting undue pressure on our emergency response system, putting lives at risk, and diminishing the possibility of a quick and early adoption by the wider marketplace.