People often say that they couldn’t live without their mobiles, and for some, this is particularly true with many owing their lives to the emergency services contacted in time of dire need. Emergency services summoned via a mobile phone. The ability to contact police, medical and rescue services is one we must be thankful for in these dangerous times however, it is this ease of contact that is apparently putting a strain on emergency resources as the number of people who people “pocket dial” emergency numbers is on the increase.
CBC news recently reported that the problem is a serious issue in Canada, citing research by the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) which found that approximately 10% of the calls that come into 911 in Toronto are accidental pocket dial calls. When you consider that there are approximately 6 million 911 calls made in Ottawa each year from mobile phones, that 10% is quite a large number meaning that a lot of resources are wasted responding to situations that don’t require an the attendance of the Police, Ambulance or Fire services.
The pocket dialling problem doesn’t only happen when people accidentally call 911 directly either – it also happens when they pocket dial someone else who worries that the person is involved in an emergency. This happened recently in the United States when a man accidentally pocket dialed his wife. She heard “gangster music” coming from the car and got the impression that perhaps her husband had been kidnapped and was in need of assistance. The wife then reported the issue to police who called out a SWAT team of 30 armed guards to help deal with the hostage situation. There was of course, no hostage situation but those resources were possibly diverted from more deserving cause.
Whilst there is a definite need to have phones that can easily make calls in the event of an emergency, the problem could get worse, especially since the advent of touchscreen handsets has made instant dialling even easier.