RCMP Asks Android Users to Turn Off Emergency SOS Feature
British Columbia’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has issued a public reminder for individuals to check their Android smartphones following a significant surge in dropped 911 calls.
Over the past few weeks, RCMP 911 dispatch centers across the province have reported a rise in abandoned or dropped emergency calls. The BC RCMP says these calls are linked to the ‘Emergency SOS’ feature on Android smartphones, which enables users to quickly start a 911 call.
“Most often, users don’t even realize the Emergency SOS has been activated and a call is made to 911,” says Superintendent Mike Bhatti, Officer in charge of the Operational Communications Centres. “These dropped and abandoned calls take time and resources away from actual emergencies. Please only call 911 if you need immediate assistance.”
The Emergency SOS feature on Android phones automatically dials 911 when the side button key is pressed five times in quick succession. Android phone users are now being encouraged to disable the Emergency SOS feature on their phones to prevent accidental calls to 911. This feature is available on Android 12 or later.
After a 911 call is made, a police dispatcher must ascertain the caller’s safety and whether there is a genuine emergency. If an accidental call is made from a smartphone, callers are advised to stay on the line and speak to a dispatcher. They can explain that the call was accidental and answer any questions the dispatcher may have.
The BC RCMP has provided instructions on how to turn off the Emergency SOS feature:
- Go to the settings of your phone
- Click on the Safety and Emergency section
- Slide the toggle to turn the Emergency SOS feature off
As for iPhone users? A similar Emergency SOS feature is available and it can be triggered by pressing the side key five times or by holding down the Sleep/Wake and volume buttons.
This feature debuted in 2017 and similarly saw warnings from police not to test the feature for fun as it tied up 911 call centres. The BC RCMP did not mention anything about the iPhone in its notice to the public, as it specifically singled out Android users.