Crash Detection on iPhone 14 Leads to 5x Surge in False 911 Calls at Bonnaroo Festival

Apple’s recently introduced Crash Detection feature, available on the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch, has caused a surge in erroneous 911 calls during the Bonnaroo music festival in Tennessee last weekend. According to local first responders, the number of false emergency calls was approximately five times higher compared to previous years of the festival.

With over 80,000 attendees, this year’s Bonnaroo festival in Manchester, Tennessee, presented a significant challenge for first responders. However, Apple’s Crash Detection feature exacerbated the situation, according to Scott LeDuc, director of the Coffee County 911 Communication Center, who spoke with local news outlet WKRN. LeDuc explained that festivalgoers’ enthusiastic dancing and partying in the crowds triggered the false 911 calls.

During the festival, first responders reached out to Apple to address the influx of false-positive 911 calls caused by Crash Detection. While Apple offered to send engineers to the festival for on-site assistance, the situation was eventually resolved through phone communication and issue diagnosis.

In an effort to alleviate the burden imposed by Crash Detection, the Manchester Police Department advised concert-goers to disable the feature altogether. This message led to a reduction of “40 to 60 percent” in the number of false calls, as per LeDuc’s statement.

Despite the increased strain from the fivefold surge in false 911 calls, first responders managed to address each call promptly without compromising their response to genuine emergencies.

Crash Detection was introduced last year on the iPhone 14, Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch SE, and Apple Watch Ultra. Since its debut, Apple has made several adjustments to the feature’s algorithm in an attempt to minimize false positives. Crash Detection has previously been linked to erroneous 911 calls from locations such as ski resorts and amusement parks.

The primary objective of Crash Detection is to identify severe car accidents and automatically contact emergency services on behalf of the user. The feature provides a 20-second window for the user to respond to a notification before activating the Emergency SOS feature, which dials emergency services and shares the user’s precise location with dispatchers.

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