Yesterday, Apple released a press release previewing features which will be available in iOS 11.3….the eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted right at the bottom of the press release a new safety feature coming this spring. How does it affect the future of lone worker apps?
iOS Emergency Location Feature
Updates to Apple’s OS iOS are always eagerly anticipated and this week’s 11.3 preview was no different. The press release was packed full of new features to come including ARKit 1.5 which will give developers the opportunity to give more immersive Augmented Reality (AR) apps, new Animoji, plus new features to show battery health and condition.
That’s all very exciting, but it was the final paragraph that caught our eye:
“Support for Advanced Mobile Location (AML) to automatically send a user’s current location when making a call to emergency services in countries where AML is supported.”
AML is a caller location technique, developed here in the United Kingdom by BT, EE and HTC. It can be used to locate 999 callers who are unable to give their location; due to losing consciousness for example. During an emergency call, AML will turn on mobile data, contact Network Time Protocol (NTP) servers and then send call handlers an SMS message, with the caller’s location. It then switches back off.
Apple is late to the party with AML as Google announced way back in July 2016 that all Android phones from Gingerbread OS version onwards would include the technology. The European Emergency Number Association (EENA) called on Apple last August to enable AML on their devices.
Now that Apple has responded to the EENA call and the launch of AML is imminent, we got thinking about lone worker apps. Upon seeing the excitement around the new feature, will employers or lone workers believe AML is a suitable replacement or equivalent to dedicated lone worker apps?
What Does It Mean For The Lone Worker Apps Market?
AML is an amazing solution that might save many more lives. A well-publicised story hit the newspapers back in January 2017, when a young boy in Lithuania called the emergency services after finding his father unconscious, as he didn’t know his address and the Cell-ID information received showed a radius of 14 kilometres, it was impossible to locate the boy. But, AML kicked in and provided a radius of 6 metres, meaning emergency services located the man, giving him life-saving treatment.
Proven to work so well, could AML replace lone worker apps?
Lone Worker Apps vs AML Reliance
Smartphones with AML enabled are great for the general population, but a lone worker will face specific risks you or I might not encounter. This can cause immense worry and stress to lone workers and those that employ them. There are moral and legal reasons why an employer would want to offer their lone workers with a more robust solution. Something which offers more reassurance than just knowing employees can make a 999 call and be located accurately in an emergency.
The primary reason we believe lone worker apps are a better choice for staff at risk is the amber alert functionality. Requesting employees make a 999 call in an emergency is a reactive measure: it happens after the event. With AML your employee will be found quickly, that’s if they can even make an emergency call, but using a lone worker app means that your staff are able to set an amber alert timer before entering risky areas.
If an employee gets into trouble and is unable to call for help, the timer on the amber alert would trigger a red alert for them. The latest GPS technology also means that employers using our Connect portal can view amber and red alerts in real time, alongside employee locations. That’s proactively looking after your lone workers and is the difference between a lone worker app and relying on AML.
Another useful feature of lone worker apps and devices is their discreteness and the speed at which a red alert can be triggered. It’s faster than dialling 999 and explaining the situation to an operator. Lone worker apps link via service agreement to an Alarm Receiving Centre, whereupon receiving a red alert, an operator can listen in to a situation and make the judgement on what action to take.
Lone worker apps are not limited to use on smartphones either; most can be used on tablets which is useful for lone workers who carry iPads rather than phones. For example; those who work in the utility industry checking gas electricity meters. Having a dedicated lone worker app on their tablet, which is more often than not, the device they always have closest to hand is a faster way to summon help than having to find out their phone to call 999.
In the past, accessibility of lone worker apps has been an issue for some employees, who felt that reaching into a pocket or bag for their phone could waste precious time in an emergency. The same goes with relying on a 999 call; it’s often not a fast enough solution. Lone worker apps such as ours, now come with Bluetooth buttons. Once a lone worker has the app installed on their phone, a small button can be paired with their device. This can be worn on a belt clip, or used as a keyring and enables the user to activate a red alert without having to touch their phone.
“Ah”, we hear you say, “but lone worker apps aren’t BS8484 compliant on iPhones are they?”. Yes, while this is true, relying on an employee to make a 999 call isn’t compliant either! If you need a BS8484 compliant solution, you will be pleased to know lone worker apps comply with BS8484 when installed on Android models. The iPhone is so locked down that the login function cannot be overridden by the app, meaning lone workers have to log in before activating a red alert.
Contact First2HelpYou About Lone Worker Apps
We hope this article cleared up why a lone worker app offers a more practical solution for those who work alone. If you have questions or want to speak to us about our lone worker app, then please get in touch.