NSW Farmers says satellite emergency connectivity in new iPhones could save lives in the bush if it gets rolled out in Australia.
The new feature, which Apple says will allow users to send preset “SOS” messages to emergency services using direct satellite connections, would partly solve a major issue for rural and remote communities.
At present, large parts of NSW have limited or no mobile phone reception, meaning anyone who runs into trouble or has an accident is unable to call for help without dedicated equipment.
The rollout of this feature on new mobile phones would eventually put safety in more pockets across the country, NSW Farmers Rural Affairs committee chair Deb Charlton said.
“While this won’t help us deal with the issue of data connectivity or being able to run your business from the paddock, this promises to be a major step forward for safety,” Mrs Charlton said.
“Of course we will continue to advocate for improved mobile phone coverage for farmers and rural communities, because it is a major factor holding country businesses back.
“But what this new feature means is that even if you’re stuck without a signal and a long way from help, you’ll be able to tell someone where you are, and that’s a good thing.”
At present, the Emergency SOS via satellite capability will only be available in the United States and Canada, but Mrs Charlton said she hoped to see that expand around the globe, and onto more devices.
“Like any new technology it won’t be available everywhere, and it won’t be cheap – the price of the new iPhone 14 starts at $1399,” Mrs Charlton said.
“But what we’ve seen in the past with safety technology like seatbelts is they become more common, other manufacturers adopt them, and eventually they’re a regular feature.
“For a great big land like Australia, being able to call for help when you’re out of coo-ee will be a gamechanger.”