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SMS phone location system to launch in France

An enhanced mobile phone location system that will automatically transmit a caller’s  location to emergency services is to launch in France before the end of the year.

Advanced Mobile Location (AML), developed in the UK in 2014 as a solution to the problem of caller location in emergencies, works by automatically sending an SMS to emergency services detailing a caller’s GPS location.

The technology is already built into all Apple and Android phones and can also use wifi, depending on which signal is strongest at the time of the call.

For it to work, a country must activate the service on its territory, often involving investment.

Benoît Vivier, spokesman for the European Emergency Number Association (EENA), said “the interior minister has been working seriously on this for a year and a half. It has taken a long time due to French bureaucracy”.

He confirmed that the new European Electronics Communication Code has made it mandatory for all EU member states to have enabled AML by December 2020.

It is is currently used in 15 countries but not France – or Italy.

This service could therefore not have helped find French hiker Simon Gautier, who died in August after falling down a ravine near Salerno, Italy, despite calling the emergency services.

He was in a relatively remote rural location so calculating his precise position using his phone signal was difficult due to a lack of mobile antennae in the area.

As a result, getting a precise location was near-impossible.

He was found 10 days later by a member of a search party using binoculars rather than modern technology.

An involuntary manslaughter investigation has been launched by the Italian police to determine whether the emergency services were negligent in their search for him.

The hiker’s family have criticised the Italian authorities, claiming they took too long to organise a search team.

Mr Gautier called the emergency services after falling early in the morning but investigators did not arrive on the scene until the end of the day.

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