It’s a slippery slope.
Apple’s new, overly-sensitive iPhone 14 and 14 Pro models and three Apple Watch editions are made to alert authorities when its owner gets into a serious accident — but are now dialing 911 even for inconsequential skiing stumbles.
Since the beginning of ski season, a crash detection feature has caused 911 centers near ski mountains to be overwhelmed with accidental, automated calls from fallen skiers’ and snowboarders’ phones and watches.
Upstate New York’s Greene County 911 center – which fields calls from popular ski destinations Windham and Hunter Mountains – saw a 22 percent surge in hang-ups, open lines, and misdialed 911 calls last December compared to December 2021.
“We’re still running in that 15 to 25 percent increase in calls [compared to last year], that very well could be generated … by these Apple-generated and automated crash notifications,” the county’s 911 Communications Director, Jim DiPerna, told The Post.
When an automated call comes in, dispatchers will try to get someone on the phone to verify that there’s no real emergency.
When the owner doesn’t realize that their phone is dialing 911, the officers will take steps like tracking the Apple device’s location and sharing it with the mountain’s ski patrol, according to DiPerna.
“Worst case scenario, we’re trying to figure out where you are, what went wrong and what resources we have to send out to take care of that. It can go from a 30 second phone call to God knows how long,” he said.
The 911 calls triggered by crash detection have put a strain on dispatch centers, as well as police and emergency medical services, who sometimes respond to the location on the ski mountain where the unanswered call originated from.
Pennsylvania’s Carbon County Communications Center now takes up to 20 automated crash detection calls a day from snowbirds at Jack Frost, Big Boulder and Blue Mountain ski areas – an uptick that Assistant 911 Manager Justin Markell describes as “taxing” for his team.
“They are already busy enough,” he griped.
“You don’t want to assume that nothing’s happening and everyone’s okay wherever the activation came from, so it’s something that we have to go check,” said Shawn Datesman, the 911 Operations Director of Monroe County, Pennsylvania – which is home to Camelback and Shawnee ski resorts.
An Apple spokesperson told The Post that the company is in touch with 911 call centers that are currently experiencing a spike in automated 911 calls due to the crash detection feature, and getting their feedback.
The spokesperson refused to respond to how the feature might be updated in the future to prevent Apple devices from making 911 calls when there hasn’t been a car crash.