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Emergency call tracking launched

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/05/2017

Police are now able to locate domestic violence victims using their phones, even if the victims are too scared to give out their addresses.

The $12-million service, which allows emergency services to use a phone's GPS signal to locate 111 callers, has been launched in Wellington.

Last year emergency services were forced to make 1800 special requests to network providers for information about a caller's location, but changes to privacy laws in January mean the requests are no longer needed.

Police Minister Paula Bennett says as well as helping domestic violence victims, the technology has also been used to locate people in land and marine searches.

"If it saves one life or one example like that, quite frankly it's a privilege being here to launch it," she said.

Communications Minister Simon Bridges and Peter Dunne, the minister responsible for the fire and ambulance services, also attended the launch.

Mr Dunne met with French emergency services earlier this year and said they had raised their inability to locate callers during the Bataclan Theatre terror attack as an issue.

This service would have made the response to that event easier, he said.

Mr Bridges said the service wouldn't be used to track offenders, in line with privacy law requirements.

"It is only used when 111 is called," he said.

GPS locators are only switched on for 25 seconds and data is deleted within 60 minutes, he said.

But the ministers warned callers should still give their locations where possible when calling 111 and should continue to carry emergency locator beacons when boating or tramping.

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