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Apple crash detection feature causing false alarms for B.C. Search and Rescue crews


Members of search and rescue teams in the southeast corner of British Columbia are dealing with false alerts thanks to Apple's new crash detection feature.

Crash detection -- which is available on iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models, as well as Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch SE (2nd generation) and Apple Watch Ultra – will connect users with emergency services if a severe car crash occurs. 

When a severe car crash is detected, your iPhone or Apple Watch sounds an alarm and displays an alert.

Then, if you don't respond within 20 seconds, your device automatically calls emergency services.

However, some first responders are complaining they're getting sent alerts from skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers who don't actually need their help.

"In our case, it was an older gentleman whose daughters gave him an apple watch in order to keep track of him," said Peter Reid, a member of Kimberley Search and Rescue.

"He was out cross country skiing and discovered that the watch was sending out panic messages to his daughters and to us as well."

Golden Search and Rescue, meanwhile, says they've received three alerts in two days from people who didn’t need help, apparently caused by simply falling down or making quick movements.               

Reid says helicopter rescue calls cost the province upwards of $10,000 per incident, and if they're sent to a bogus call it diverts their resources from those who truly need it.

Ritesh Kotak, a cyber and technology analyst based out of Toronto, says the crash detection software is actually built into new Apple devices.

"Think of it as an antenna that allows it to communicate with a satellite. So, older model iPhones or other types of devices won't work this service."

Despite the hiccups, Reid still believed the technology is a "wonderful thing" – though he says it needs to be used "in a proper fashion."

Apple has worked with the B.C. Search and Rescue Association and North Shore Rescue to fix the issue, and introduced updates for both iOS 16.1.2 and 16.2 on iPhone 14 and 14 Pro models on Dec. 13.

"Users are encouraged to get the update," said Apple.                 

For more information you can visit the Apple support website. Top Stories

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