Apple is touting the emergency communications capabilities of its new iPhone 14 linebut desert rescue experts say the new feature could get some users into trouble.
The new iPhones allow you to send short messages from remote locations where cellular service isn’t available. Apple says that the satellite feature is among the “vital new security features we hope you never need.” However, experts say the feature could also give adventurers a false sense of security.
“There will always be a group of novice or untrained participants in outdoor recreation who lose their trust in technology as a safety net that they don’t really understand,” he said. Christopher Boyer, executive director of the National Search and Rescue Association, told Digital Trends in an interview. “There will also be others who abuse the technology out of ignorance, entitlement, or negative intent.”
Apple says that the function Emergency S.O.S., coming in November, can help you connect with emergency services outside of Wi-Fi and cellular coverage range. The company warns that under ideal conditions, a message could take 15 seconds to send, while it could take more than a minute to send under trees with light to medium foliage. If you are under heavy vegetation or surrounded by other obstructions, it may not be possible to connect to a satellite at all.
Jones noted that the satellites operate on line-of-sight connections. If you are in a forest, cave, canyon, or anywhere in northern Canada or Alaska, you may not be able to make contact with a satellite.
“Read and understand the limitations of satellite communications, or the feature of the satellite is useless,” Boyer said. “Don’t fully trust the satellite service; make sure you have multiple redundant ways to communicate or receive alerts, like two-way radios.”
Bruce Jones, an emergency preparedness expert at Midland Radio, which makes two-way communications and weather/emergency alert technologies, warned in an interview with Digital Trends that “cell phone users will need to understand that this feature will not be effective 100% of the time.” weather. Using it responsibly is my advice.”
First responders frequently deal with emergency calls from people who ignored or relayed posted warnings, got into trouble and called for rescue, Jones said. Some cities and counties will charge you for expensive helicopter costs if you need rescue due to your own choices. “Satellite SOS is not a free pass for risky behavior,” she added.
The debate over whether more technology leads to more risky behavior goes back decades. the mountaineers they have argued that devices like satellite rescue beacons, which can alert and guide rescuers to affected adventurers, are a crutch that can lead inexperienced hikers into situations they are unprepared for.
There is no doubt that satellite devices save lives. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA0) said that since its inception in 1982, its satellites had been credited with supporting more than 48,000 rescues around the world.
In a recent episode, Alaska Air National Guardsmen rescued an injured hiker about 30 miles northeast of Anchorage. The hiker sent a message for help using a satellite communication device. “This rescue once again demonstrated the usefulness of a two-way satellite communication device when going out into the Alaskan wilderness where there is no standard cellular service,” he said in a statement. Press release Alaska Air National Guard Sergeant Major Jeffrey Hamilton.
Many wildlife experts say the iPhone 14’s satellite capabilities can be a useful tool if used carefully. Ryan B Carlsonexecutive director of the Wilderness Education Association, said the possibility that satellite communications could lead to overconfidence is not a reason not to buy the new iPhone.
“The answer is to better equip and educate users on security best practices,” he said in an interview. “To increase competencies in recreational activities, we need to increase access to training and education to make good decisions in the field. A day of education and training is incredibly affordable compared to the cost of a rescue, especially in remote terrain.”
Jones agreed, saying that “everyone needs multiple, redundant ways to receive and transmit emergency information. Incoming severe weather warnings and outgoing calls for help have the potential to save lives. Satellite is another tool to put in your preparedness kit along with two-way radios.”
Harding Busha former Navy Seal and security operations manager for Global Rescue (a provider of travel risk management, evacuation, security and medical services), said in an interview that field enthusiasts shouldn’t replace their other satellite messaging with an iPhone 14. He noted that a satellite messaging device allows him to send SMS messages and emails to anyone, not just the local municipal 911 emergency response service.
“Satellite messaging devices usually have a tracking function, where the user can send a message to specific recipients, and the recipient can track the sender’s movement and location with a map graph, including location, geographic coordinates , the direction of travel and the speed of travel of the sender,” he added.
But Bush said having cellular and satellite connectivity in a single device is a major technological advance. Users will be safer as they can always contact the emergency services.
“As the satellite functionality of smartphones expands, there could be a time when they eclipse the capabilities and features of satellite tracking and messaging devices and satellite phones,” Bush said. “But until then, devices with satellite messaging and tracking capabilities should be the standard communication device for those who venture beyond the range of cell phone connectivity.”
Boyer cautioned against heading out into the field with the iPhone 14 and hoping for rescue in an emergency. You must be trained to use a map and compass and carry them with you. Also, let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
“They should have carried the essentials required by that environment to be safe and survive,” he added. “They should have been trained for first aid and keep all the perishable outdoor skills they would need. Once lost, they should stay where they are and try to call for help.”