Call centres for police, fire and St John Ambulance were previously able to request the information from telecommunications company, but the process was slow and manual.
Under the new rules, emergency responders will be able to quickly track the locations of callers without going to the telco.
The new system will use GPS services on smartphones – even if these are turned off – and cell tower information available for all cellphones.
This is a very good move. If a caller is cut off, or not able to easily describe their location, you want emergency services to be able to get to them asap.
Edwards said robust rules would make sure the location data was only used for emergency locations and that the data would not be held.
“This system does not require individual consent, so I have required robust transparency and accountability obligations. I want the public and the agencies using this system to have confidence in it.”
Police would not be able to use the data for any investigative purposes, and it would be deleted within around 30 minutes.
That sounds a good safeguard. Presumably the Police could apply for a warrant if they then wanted to access the telco data.