Apple watches accidentally dial 911, causing problems for dispatcher

OTTAWA COUNTY. Mich. (WXMI) – This week marks 50 years since the first 911 call was placed in the United States. Since then, first response has come a long way, as devices and technology have evolved.

With the addition of cell phones, call centers received an entirely new way to communicate with those in need of help. And now, with the emergence of smartwatches and voice-activated tech on the market, there’s an even newer one – sometimes, accidental.

“If you hold your wrist the right way with an Apple Watch…it will dial 911,” says Tim Smith, director of the Ottawa County Central Dispatch Authority. “We’d call back and find out, ‘oh, it was my Apple Watch, I was exercising or I hit it wrong or hit the wrong button.’ But we’re getting Apple Watch calls all the time.”

About ten per week, Smith says, and not just from smartwatches. They’ll get them from Siri mistakes, and other voice-activated technology gone wrong. But the false or accidental calls can waste time and resources.

RELATED: Apple watches accidentally call 911

4 PHOTOS
Apple watches accidentally call 911
See Gallery
Apple watches accidentally call 911
Dispatchers in Ottawa County, Michigan say they get Apple Watch 911 calls “all the time.”
Dispatchers in Ottawa County, Michigan say they get Apple Watch 911 calls “all the time.”
Dispatchers in Ottawa County, Michigan say they get Apple Watch 911 calls “all the time.”
Dispatchers in Ottawa County, Michigan say they get Apple Watch 911 calls “all the time.”
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

“We make every effort to follow up on that call, including if we have a valid location, we’ll send an officer out if we can’t get a hold of you,” Smith says.

When officers could be out doing work elsewhere. Keep in mind, some three-digit-combos are emergency combinations in other countries.

“In Jamaica, I believe it’s 119, in the Bahamas I think that it’s 919, in England, it’s been 999 since World War 2,” says Smith.

But since your device was likely made by an international corporation, it will recognize it as a call for help and connect you to a local 911 center in the U.S.

Read Full Story