Since last October, emergency dispatchers in Sacramento County and Elk Grove, California have been receiving an unusually high number of accidental calls from Apple devices. As many as 20 unintended calls have been made daily, now totaling more than 1,600, many of which have nobody on the other end of the line.
Flooding emergency services with false alerts can take away focus from real problems that are on going. The mass number of accidental calls can be attributed to a repair and refurbishing center. Dispatchers have commented that employees can sometimes be heard in the background talking about general maintenance work and Apple products.
An Apple spokesperson has responded to that matter saying, "We’re aware of 911 calls originating from our Elk Grove repair and refurbishment facility. We take this seriously and we are working closely with local law enforcement to investigate the cause and ensure this doesn’t continue."
Neither Apple nor Elk Grove Police have commented on which devices are responsible for making the calls, but recent generation iPhones and Apple Watches are likely to blame. Emergency SOS on the iPhone 7 can be triggered by pressing the side button five times and then swiping a slider. Apple Watch SOS can be triggered by holding down the side button and will automatically call if held down long enough.
Faster access to emergency services is a useful feature to have, but loses its effect if call centers are unable to separate real emergencies from accidental calls. In this case, the Elk Grove call center is well aware of the situation and is working with Apple to resolve the problem. Jason Jimenez of the Elk Grove Police Department has said that "public safety is not in danger," at this time.