Emergency operators can now pinpoint a mobile phone caller’s location following the introduction of new tracking technology to Australia.

Key points:

  • New technology is now available in Australia to track mobile phone calls to triple zero
  • The Advanced Mobile Location technology went live on May 12, using GPS, wi-fi, and mobile network information
  • It is activated automatically on compatible phones when a call is made to triple zero

Advanced Mobile Location (AML) technology became available here at the end of 2020 and was implemented by the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority on May 12.

It means triple zero operators can now see the location of a person calling if they have a compatible mobile phone.

The technology is accurate to within five to 50 metres, and could save a life when the caller cannot describe their exact location, such as on unfamiliar roads, remote farms or in situations where a child is making the call.

“It significantly improves our call-takers’ ability to identify an emergency caller’s location, so it’s a fantastic new tool for our toolkit,” said Sarah Renner, the authority’s executive director of emergency communications services.

A rural road disappears into the distance.

Emergency callers are often unable to give the name of rural roads.(

ABC News: Giulio Saggin

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A matter of metres

In the past calling from an unknown road, or from parks, beaches or farms has caused delays.

“What we’ve been using in the past is pretty much mobile phone tower triangulation, which puts a caller anywhere between a number of kilometres rather than a matter of metres with this new technology,” Ms Renner said.

AML technology lies dormant on capable smartphones until activated by a triple zero call.

About 50 per cent of calls to triple zero are made with mobile phones that are AML-capable.

That includes Androids running version 4.1 and higher with Google Play services, iPhones running IOS 14.3 or later and Apple Watch GPS running 7.2 or later.

The new tracking technology has already helped locate emergency callers.

‘Significant successes’

“We’ve had a couple of significant successes already,” Ms Renner said.

One was a high-speed vehicle crash in rural Victoria.

“In rural locations it’s really common for callers to be unaware of the name of the road on which they are travelling, and so with this event, AML, using the GPS data, gave a location to within five metres, which was a really fantastic outcome.”

In another case a caller had been trampled by a horse and was unable to provide a road-based location.

People without AML-capable mobile phones can install an app called Emergency+ on their phones to allow them to provide location details if they need to call triple zero.

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‘Significant successes already’: New phone tracking technology locates triple zero callers
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