63% of NI unaware smartphones can provide location of 999 caller

  • A new BT survey found that 70% of 999 calls made in Northern Ireland are made from mobile phones.

    Adults in Northern Ireland have, on average, called 999 twice in their lives, according to the findings.

    Only 41% make the same emergency call from a landline.

    More than 63% of adults in Northern Ireland also did not know that smartphones can now provide the exact location of a 999 caller by sending an automatic text to the 999 call handler.

    The majority of mobile phones (70%) – including Android and Apple smartphones – can now detect that an emergency call is being made, and sends the caller’s precise GPS position (to within three metres) to the 999 service during the call.

    Paul Murnaghan, regional director for BT’s Enterprise Division in Northern Ireland, said:  “With nearly 80% of people now using a smartphone, we have a lot of people carrying potential life-savers in their pockets. This could mean, for example, being able to tell which side of the motorway the call has come from, helping an ambulance get to a scene ten minutes earlier.

    “Our call handlers and emergency services do phenomenal work, so anything we can do to help them respond more efficiently, and potentially save lives, has to be a good thing.”

    The survey has been published by BT to mark this year's 999 Day (9 September), an annual celebration of the work of emergency services across the UK.

    Six BT call centres handle all the UK's 999 calls in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England, passing calls to the relevant emergency service.

    BT handled around 25 million 999 calls in the year 2000, rising to nearly 22 million calls in 2018. The emergency service call centre in Northern Ireland handled around 22% (7.1m) of these calls.

    However, the survey shows that just over a quarter of adults believe that there were less than 10 million 999 calls made in the last year.

    In the poll of adults across the UK, only 3% of adults in Northern Ireland said they don’t know when to call 999. Only 47% know that they can call 101 for a non-emergency police issue.

    Women across the UK are more likely than men to know they can call 111 in a medical non-emergency, with 52% of women knowing when to call 111, compared to only 38% of men.

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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