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Accurate emergency location can be the difference between life and death. When emergency services get a call, they need to know the caller’s location to send help and save lives. Today, over 70% of calls to emergency services come from mobile phones, but locating these mobile callers can be a major issue. In most countries, emergency location, if it exists, relies on cell tower location (which can have a radius of up to several kilometers) or assisted GPS (which can fail indoors, and suffers from urban canyon, multi-path, and weather reception problems).

To  help  address this issue, Google has created Android  Emergency  Location  Services. ELS is a supplemental service that saves lives by sending enhanced location directly from Android handsets to emergency services when an emergency call is placed.

ELS is built into Google Play Services as part of the Android operating system, and works on over 99% of active Android devices (running Android OS version 4.1 and up). It uses the same location technologies available to apps on your phone, including cell, GPS and WiFi signals, as well as other smartphone sensors, to quickly estimate an accurate emergency location, both indoors and outdoors.


  •  ELS is not a mobile application, and doesn’t require any special hardware, downloads or updates.
  •  ELS is activated only when the user contacts Emergency Services, and upon activation, a  user’s precise location is never seen or handled by Google.
  •  Location is computed on the handset and sent to Emergency Services.
  •  Location data is sent via Data SMS (per AML specifications*) or HTTPS, which are both open, OS- agnostic protocols.
  •  ELS location is often more accurate and reliable than cell tower IDs.

Google will activate ELS once a mobile network operator or emergency infrastructure provider has built the necessary endpoint to receive emergency location. ELS is a free service; Google’s goal is to make ELS available globally, to keep Android users safer and improve the state of emergency services around the world.

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* Note: AML is a protocol that was developed by EENA, British Telecom and Google that specifies how emergency location data is sent and received using the Data SMS format. ELS is Google’s implementation for AML for Android phones.

last updated: November 2020