Thousands of Android phones accidentally called 911

    Authorities in Anoka County say in recent weeks they have received nearly twice as many 911 “hang ups,” or calls that go unanswered, following a phone operating system update Android is clear.

    “We answer all calls at Anoka County 911: ‘What is your emergency address.’ And we got no response. And most of the time, you can hear things in the background. Sometimes you can’t, because it’s something in a purse, in a pocket, (or) a backpack. So it accidentally called in,” said Kari Morrissey, assistant director of emergency communications for Anoka County. “Our policy here is that we treat this as a real call, because you’re going to get emergency calls.”

    That means the operator will stay on the call until they can talk to someone and find out what’s going on — or, most serious, remain on the phone while deputies or police police drove to where the call originated to see what was going on.

    Morrissey said the number of 911 hangups almost doubled from May 5 to June 5. That’s a jump of nearly 2,000 calls for the month. Morrissey said that’s responsible for a nearly 4% increase in 911 calls to the county.

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    She said it was only recently that calls began to increase sharply, and some of the calls were positively related to Android phones.

    It also has team cars scrambling.

    In addition to calls, “peace officers have to go out and, you know, answer these calls, which of course they do, to make sure that there’s a safe environment, wherever they are.” where,” Tierney said. Peters, community relations coordinator for the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office. “You know, we never want to miss an emergency call.”

    It’s unclear exactly what caused the change. Android has included a feature since 2021 that makes an emergency call if the phone’s power button is pressed five times in a row. It is designed as a safety feature for people who cannot or cannot safely unlock their phone and dial numbers on the screen.

    Google, which provides and maintains the Android operating system, did not immediately respond to a question about the matter from MPR News.

    Apple recently had a similar problem. The company’s automatic collision detection technology, especially on Apple Watch devices, has resulted in accidental calls to 911 falsely reporting vehicle crashes.

    The issue believed to be Android-related has also been reported in Seattle, Ontario and Florida.

    In response, authorities are asking people to do two things: first, if users don’t think they will need the feature, officials will ask people to go into settings on their phone’s settings. their Android and turn off the emergency SOS feature, so calling isn’t accidentally triggered by pressing the power button multiple times.

    And if you have this feature turned on or at any time find that your phone HAS called 911 without you realizing it, don’t ignore it.

    “Please don’t hang up,” Peters told the sheriff’s office. Many jurisdictions consider “open line” calls to be potentially threatening situations in which someone cannot talk safely or is incapacitated and needs to respond. “Please speak to the dispatcher on the other end of the line.”

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