We recently received a question about the diamond shaped kite with “S “in the middle if it. That is the E911 Map icon which lets you know that your cell is configured to send location information to emergency services based on some clever mathematical guesswork. For instance, if your cell is connected to WiFi that is registered to a physical address that can help 911 operations get close to your location.
In case you have other icons you want to investigate you may find our Complete Guide To Icons on Android Devices handy.
Why Would I Want To Use WiFi Calling?
More an more cells are configured to make/receive at least some calls via WiFi rather than cellular towers. This is called “WiFi Calling”. Calling using WiFi rather than cellular networks is a very good idea in some situations:
- It can save you money by avoiding roaming charges when traveling
- WiFi calling can be a life save during emergencies if the cell towers are down or overloaded
- It might provide better quality calls if your WiFi is closer and stronger than the nearest cell tower
What is E911?
E911 is just “electronic 911” meaning that you have 911 emergency calling services when you are not using a landline.
When you phone a 911 call center using a landline, they know where you are because the phone number is registered to a physical address. How is 911 supposed to figure out where you are when you are calling from a cell phone that could be anywhere in the world?
E911 lets your phone send 911 call center staff your approximate location using your cell phones GPS and sometimes WiFi.
Are There Privacy Problems With E911?
If you trust your government or at least the 911 call centers and you should not be worried about your privacy. However, trust in government is not the highest these days so we see comments like:
It means big brother is tracking you more with out your permission and this WILL be abused its another violation of your privacy it is emergency services able to locate your phone at any time. And the waves mean you gave Google free rein to follow you everywhere.Source
Our argument against this would be that if the government wants to track you personally, they will get a warrant to track you through the cell towers you hit and are unlikely to abuse this “second rate” tracking solution… but that is just our opinion.