Apple recently rolled out its Emergency SOS via Satellite feature with the launch of iOS 16.1. The feature is designed to allow iPhone 14 owners to contact emergency services via satellite connectivity in areas where a cellular or WiFi connection is unavailable. The feature has now saved its first reported person in Alaska, when a snowmobiler became stranded in a remote area.
On December 1, 2022, at around 2:00 am, the Alaska State Troopers were notified that an adult male traveling via snowmachine from Noorvik to Kotzebue had activated an Apple iPhone Emergency SOS via satellite on his iPhone after becoming stranded. The man eas stranded in a remote location that had no connectivity, and he has activated the Emergency SOS via Satellite feature on his iPhone 14 to alert rescuers.
Working with local search and rescue teams, the Apple Emergency Response Center, and the Northwest Arctic Borough Search and Rescue Coordinator, the NWAB SAR deployed four volunteer searchers to the Nimiuk Point area directly to the GPS coordinates provided by the Apple Emergency Response Center. The adult male was located and transported to Kotzebue by the volunteer search team. There were no injuries reported to Troopers.
The area where the man was located is remote and is on the fringes of where satellite connectivity is available. Apple says that satellite connectivity might not work in places above 62° latitude. Northern parts of Canada and Alaska, and Noorvik and Kotzebue are close to 69° latitude.
As noted by MacRumors, Troopers who helped with the rescue said they were “impressed with the accuracy and completeness of information included in the initial alert.” Emergency SOS via Satellite feature asks several questions ahead of when an alert is sent out to help expedite rescue missions.
Every model in the iPhone 14 lineup — iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max — can connect directly to a satellite. Emergency SOS via satellite builds on existing features, including Emergency SOS, Medical ID, emergency contacts, and Find My location sharing, offering the ability to connect to a satellite for a more 360-degree approach to sharing critical information with emergency services, family, and friends.
The service allows Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) — or emergency services call centers — to connect to users in emergency situations, and requires no additional software or protocols to enable communications. Users will be connected directly to emergency services that are equipped to receive text messages or to relay centers with Apple-trained emergency specialists who are ready to contact PSAPs that cannot receive text messages on the user’s behalf.