Emergency services continue to slam Apple's Crash Detection

Posted:
in General Discussion
Crash Detection on Apple Watch and iPhone 14 still causing problems for law enforcement and emergency responders.

Crash Detection can save a life, but it also strains emergency services
Crash Detection can save a life, but it also strains emergency services


Reports keep filing in from emergency service departments complaining of being overwhelmed by false reports from Apple's Crash Detection. Ski lodges, theme parks with roller coasters, and even gyms are running into repeated problems.

A story from The New York Times gathered several anecdotes about how Crash Detection has affected emergency services operations. The stories range from the usual false alarm from a skier to someone taking spin class -- each perfectly fine despite the 911 call.

A Summit County call center in Colorado shared one such story, as Sergeant Watson walked through a busy day dealing with false alarms. The calls from Crash Detection alerts were about a third of those coming in.

"I wanted to check the numbers," Sergeant Watson said. "I was writing a letter to Apple." He described his basic message to the company as "I'm struggling to get my daily job done. I don't have all day to do Apple products."

Another story takes place in Grand County, where Sheriff Brett Schroetlin says the operators have been instructed to ignore Crash Detection calls with no one on the other end of the line. None of the "ghost calls" so far have been real emergencies, according to the Sheriff, and he couldn't waste limited resources.

The better technology, he reasoned, was human beings.

"It's rare that someone falls on the mountain and there's not a passer-by," Sheriff Schroetlin said. "We're hoping to get an actual 911 call from the person or someone on the scene."

The problem with Crash Detection

Crash Detection is a new feature that uses various sensors and machine learning to determine if a user has been in a car crash. The iPhone 14 lineup, Apple Watch Series 8, and Apple Watch Ultra all have this feature.

It isn't meant for skiing and other extreme sports -- but that's the issue at the core of the ski area complaints.

Apple says there isn't a silver bullet for being able to tell the difference between a car crash and a roller coaster or skier. The company touts the times lives are saved as a reason to keep the feature on.

Users can toggle Crash Detection on and off
Users can toggle Crash Detection on and off


Perhaps, there is a middle ground. The technology seems to be catching a lot of users off guard as if they didn't know their brand-new Apple Watch or iPhone was going to dial 911 for them.

Instead of leaving Crash Detection on by default for all users, Apple could provide a prompt during setup asking the user if they'd like to turn on Crash Detection -- making it opt-in. Fall Detection, the less severe cousin of the feature, is only automatically enabled for users over 55, for example.

Or another option is prompting users to temporarily turn off the feature using geolocation. They could visit a theme park or ski lodge and have an alert pop up to notify them of the feature and its potential problems.

However, turning off a safety feature isn't ideal either, as it could save the user's life. Apple will have to find a happy medium between satisfying customer needs and emergency services' plight.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,379moderator
    Apple says there isn't a silver bullet for being able to tell the difference between a car crash and a roller coaster or skier.
    There is a pretty significant difference in that a skier and roller coaster return to normal movement within a short period of time. A car crash will result in the watch or phone remaining stationary. A car may continue to move after a collision for a short while but not for a couple of minutes and it can detect vehicle movement beforehand.

    A skier and rollercoaster also travel in a pattern - down hill fast then up the slope slowly, repeat for the skier and multiple abrupt changes in height and direction for a rollercoaster.

    The iPhone can automatically detect driving mode based on movement:

    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208090

    That would be a good place to start and only enable crash detection by default when driving mode was detected first. If people doing sports want to enable impact detection manually, they can enable a more sensitive setting and perhaps set it to notify emergency contacts first.

    - default mode should be for vehicles, detect driving mode and high speed collision
    - all modes should check for followup normal movement so don't contact emergency services for at least 2 minutes
    - people who do sports can enable a more sensitive collision detection mode and set it up to notify emergency contacts first before emergency services
    napoleon_phoneapartFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 18
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,836member
    At one time at least my phone could tell that I was in a moving car if I tried to use it, like if I was a passenger and wanted to access Maps for example. It would warn me I shouldn’t do that. Seems like Apple could use something like that to figure out if I’m in a car, or not. I mean if I’m moving, but not on a road, then it would ignore any “crash” that it senses. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 18
    There really is no silver bullet. Relating to my work, it isn't very different from pro-actively alerting developers about problems in software (Although the stakes are much higher with crash/fall detection as its Life or death situation) . If the alerting is too aggressive and unnecessarily waking people in the middle of night developers just learn to keep the phone in silent mode at nights. On the other hand if the alerting is not aggressive enough then we are going to have some very disappointed users.
    Only way to solve it review every case of false alarm and detect patterns and let the system learn from it. I wonder if apple has someway of reporting false alarms. If not its going to be very difficult solving this.  More and more emergency departments are just going to 'ignore Crash Detection calls' as they have weigh it against denying/delaying care for those are really in need.

    edited February 2023 FileMakerFellerwatto_cobraHallel
  • Reply 4 of 18
    If they want Apple to fix it they should just send the bill for false alarms to Apple. I think OnStar uses its own dispatchers to assess the situation before calling 911.
    grandact73FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 5 of 18
    danoxdanox Posts: 3,061member
    Will, any personal responsibility ever come into this equation? I.e. Turn off if you are participating in any physical activity that might set it off skiing, surfing, athletic event, gym workout, jogging, running, amusement park?
    PetrolDavewatto_cobrajfabula1
  • Reply 6 of 18
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 2,073member
    It's worth noting that Apple is also probably gathering considerable real-world data where crash detection is triggered and the user does respond to prevent the call. For every case where someone doesn't notice their watch or phone inside their ski jacket alerting them of a pending 911 call, there are probably several from the same location where people do notice it and prevent the 911 call. Repeated similar patterns within that data will be used to continually refine what will trigger the detection program in the future, and the problem will diminish over time. 
    edited February 2023 FileMakerFellerretrogustowatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 18
    Vaguely related:
    Why does the Loud warning trigger on my Watch when I dry my hands at a dryer in a bathroom?
    Didn't a software engineer envision this happening?  Especially the one who came up with the hand-washing timer.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 18
    Vaguely related:
    Why does the Loud warning trigger on my Watch when I dry my hands at a dryer in a bathroom?
    Didn't a software engineer envision this happening?  Especially the one who came up with the hand-washing timer.

    Yeah, but they are truthfully quite loud, which is what the alert says. I get the alert regularly and I agree it’s annoying, but it is factually correct.
    FileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 18
    That Sheriff is an Android user. You can tell by his anti-Apple comments.

    Apple is financing dispatch centres for the Satellite feature. Maybe that could be where all emergency calls go first, to be evaluated and escalated to 9-1-1 if needed?
    edited February 2023 watto_cobraStrangeDays
  • Reply 10 of 18
    That Sheriff is an Android user. You can tell by his anti-Apple comments.

    Apple is financing dispatch centres for the Satellite feature. Maybe that could be where all emergency calls go first, to be evaluated and escalated to 9-1-1 if needed?
    That would raise all kinds of legal hurdles.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 18
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 1,128member
    Marvin said:
    Apple says there isn't a silver bullet for being able to tell the difference between a car crash and a roller coaster or skier.
    There is a pretty significant difference in that a skier and roller coaster return to normal movement within a short period of time. A car crash will result in the watch or phone remaining stationary. A car may continue to move after a collision for a short while but not for a couple of minutes and it can detect vehicle movement beforehand.

    A skier and rollercoaster also travel in a pattern - down hill fast then up the slope slowly, repeat for the skier and multiple abrupt changes in height and direction for a rollercoaster.

    The iPhone can automatically detect driving mode based on movement:

    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208090

    That would be a good place to start and only enable crash detection by default when driving mode was detected first. If people doing sports want to enable impact detection manually, they can enable a more sensitive setting and perhaps set it to notify emergency contacts first.

    - default mode should be for vehicles, detect driving mode and high speed collision
    - all modes should check for followup normal movement so don't contact emergency services for at least 2 minutes
    - people who do sports can enable a more sensitive collision detection mode and set it up to notify emergency contacts first before emergency services
    That's a fair point.

    The phone/watch should still detect movement after the "crash" detection. It's either not a crash or the crash is still ongoing. Wait for it to finish before starting the alert process.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 18
    retrogustoretrogusto Posts: 1,120member
    In the Times article, a guy claims that his watch called 911 after making a sound “ like an air-raid siren” following a strength-test game at an amusement park. if you hear your phone making a extremely loud noise for 10 seconds, and you’re not in the middle of anything too important, wouldn’t you take a look to see why it was making that noise? It seems like he should take some responsibility for this.
    watto_cobraHallel
  • Reply 13 of 18
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,379moderator
    In the Times article, a guy claims that his watch called 911 after making a sound “ like an air-raid siren” following a strength-test game at an amusement park. if you hear your phone making a extremely loud noise for 10 seconds, and you’re not in the middle of anything too important, wouldn’t you take a look to see why it was making that noise? It seems like he should take some responsibility for this.
    The sound is in the following video:

    https://www.youtube.com/shorts/Wrb5N7dfCBc

    That would be noticeable in a quiet environment. For a skier, if they are coming down a slope fast, hit a bump and keep moving, they will have their headgear/ear covering on and have wind rushing past. Rollercoasters are similarly noisy. Wrist vibration would be better for them but might cause a skier to have an accident if they try fiddling with their watch to prevent an emergency call while moving fast down a mountain.
    watto_cobraHallel
  • Reply 14 of 18
    MadbumMadbum Posts: 536member
    How about the people who are not turning off the count down? Do they want Apple to wipe their ass too? 

    But most likely police are being played , probably anti police group or more likely just sick people who think it’s funny.

    If they are not able to turnoff the count down, it’s an legit emergency . It doesn’t. Have to be a car accident …

    Which is it?
    edited February 2023
  • Reply 15 of 18
    "gathered several anecdotes about how Crash Detection has affected emergency services operations"

    The plural of 
    anecdote isn't data. 

    "'I wanted to check the numbers,' Sergeant Watson said. 'I was writing a letter to Apple.' He described his basic message to the company as 'I'm struggling to get my daily job done. I don't have all day to do Apple products.'"

    So by his own admission Sergeant Watson doesn't know what the impact is but decided to write Apple a letter saying he was struggling to get his job done. 


    All I am getting from this is there is a clear lack of data but press, including AppleInsider, have decided on a narrative and are going to press it. Perhaps y'all should do your job and look into rather than blindly repeating what you read else where. You know... actual journalism? 
  • Reply 16 of 18
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,379moderator
    So by his own admission Sergeant Watson doesn't know what the impact is but decided to write Apple a letter saying he was struggling to get his job done. 

    All I am getting from this is there is a clear lack of data
    It says the impact in the article:

    "The calls from Crash Detection alerts were about a third of those coming in."

    An earlier article has other stats:

    https://appleinsider.com/articles/23/01/30/iphone-14-crash-detection-false-positives-are-now-a-problem-in-japan

    134 calls out of 919 emergency calls in one area, 135 out of 351 in another.

    People can get fined for making unnecessary emergency calls.

    https://www.cbsnews.com/detroit/news/new-law-means-tougher-penalties-for-phony-911-callers/

    If someone is all the way in a remote location and emergency services have to travel a long distance, that comes at a cost.

    The number of incidents globally are likely minimal, people aren't frequently skiing or on a rollercoaster but the volume of false calls in those areas is still much higher than it should be. Apple just needs to tune the feature.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 17 of 18
    Marvin said:
    So by his own admission Sergeant Watson doesn't know what the impact is but decided to write Apple a letter saying he was struggling to get his job done. 

    All I am getting from this is there is a clear lack of data
    It says the impact in the article:

    "The calls from Crash Detection alerts were about a third of those coming in."

    An earlier article has other stats:

    https://appleinsider.com/articles/23/01/30/iphone-14-crash-detection-false-positives-are-now-a-problem-in-japan

    134 calls out of 919 emergency calls in one area, 135 out of 351 in another.

    People can get fined for making unnecessary emergency calls.

    https://www.cbsnews.com/detroit/news/new-law-means-tougher-penalties-for-phony-911-callers/

    If someone is all the way in a remote location and emergency services have to travel a long distance, that comes at a cost.

    The number of incidents globally are likely minimal, people aren't frequently skiing or on a rollercoaster but the volume of false calls in those areas is still much higher than it should be. Apple just needs to tune the feature.
    "about a third" is a guess. "About" is the qualifier. In this article Sergeant Watson says about a third (no actual quote of what he said) and then is quoted as saying he needs to check the numbers. Again, by his own admission he doesn't know the impact. He is speculating. 

    I'm not sure what an article about Japan has to do with Sergeant Watson. Sergeant Watson isn't in Japan. 

    Did AI reach out to Sergeant Watson for clarification ? Nope. They just summarized what was in another article. There is literally no unique content here. No addition of anything. Just a clickbait headline. 

    That all said, I will retract what I said. I suggest AI should do their job, journalism. That was unfair of me. AI doesn't do journalism. The simple regurgitate what journalists say in a clickbait kinda way. That ends up with articles that apply no critical thought and dumb crap like using a picture of an iPhone in the banner of of an article about Apple Watch. 

    It makes Buzzfeed look like Pulitzer Prize contenders. 


  • Reply 18 of 18
    Marvin said:
    So by his own admission Sergeant Watson doesn't know what the impact is but decided to write Apple a letter saying he was struggling to get his job done. 

    All I am getting from this is there is a clear lack of data
    It says the impact in the article:

    "The calls from Crash Detection alerts were about a third of those coming in."

    An earlier article has other stats:

    https://appleinsider.com/articles/23/01/30/iphone-14-crash-detection-false-positives-are-now-a-problem-in-japan

    134 calls out of 919 emergency calls in one area, 135 out of 351 in another.

    People can get fined for making unnecessary emergency calls.

    https://www.cbsnews.com/detroit/news/new-law-means-tougher-penalties-for-phony-911-callers/

    If someone is all the way in a remote location and emergency services have to travel a long distance, that comes at a cost.

    The number of incidents globally are likely minimal, people aren't frequently skiing or on a rollercoaster but the volume of false calls in those areas is still much higher than it should be. Apple just needs to tune the feature.
    "about a third" is a guess. "About" is the qualifier. In this article Sergeant Watson says about a third (no actual quote of what he said) and then is quoted as saying he needs to check the numbers. Again, by his own admission he doesn't know the impact. He is speculating. 

    I'm not sure what an article about Japan has to do with Sergeant Watson. Sergeant Watson isn't in Japan. 

    Did AI reach out to Sergeant Watson for clarification ? Nope. They just summarized what was in another article. There is literally no unique content here. No addition of anything. Just a clickbait headline. 

    That all said, I will retract what I said. I suggest AI should do their job, journalism. That was unfair of me. AI doesn't do journalism. The simple regurgitate what journalists say in a clickbait kinda way. That ends up with articles that apply no critical thought and dumb crap like using a picture of an iPhone in the banner of of an article about Apple Watch. 

    It makes Buzzfeed look like Pulitzer Prize contenders. 


    You could say that in a nice way...
Sign In or Register to comment.