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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Article about Apple Watches unintentionally calling 911 spurs questions, comment

Daniel Voltz skis down a run at 49 Degrees North. Voltz, a patroller at the mountain, was selected to be on the Olympic Ski Patrol team.  (Eli Francovich/The Spokesman-Review)
Daniel Voltz skis down a run at 49 Degrees North. Voltz, a patroller at the mountain, was selected to be on the Olympic Ski Patrol team. (Eli Francovich/The Spokesman-Review)

Sunday’s story about Apple Watches spurring unintentional 911 calls at area ski resorts garnered several interesting responses.

One reader wrote: “I’m in my 83rd year, have an Apple Watch and they work great. But I can trigger the alert when I shake out my razor at sink. It will buzz and ask if I’ve fallen, but a skier may not notice in time to cancel alert.”

Another reader questioned some of the statistics presented by the Bonner  County Sheriff’s Office, wondering, “30% of what for a day?? Were there normally 10 calls to 911 and three were from watches unintentionally? Or are there 100 calls to 911 and 30 were skiers falling down?”

That’s a good question and one The S-R would have liked to ask if the sheriff’s office had responded to an interview request.

Finally, we got some more detail from 49 Degrees North.

“We aren’t seeing any measurable number of scenarios involving crash or fall related calls triggered by smart watches or phones. It is apparently something the industry is seeing though,” wrote Rick Brown, the resort’s director of skier and boarder service. “Some ski areas are putting up signage asking customers to be aware, and potentially consider disabling the feature while skiing or riding.

 “I’m not sure why we aren’t seeing an uptick yet. Perhaps the newer devices haven’t proliferated our customer base yet, or maybe the guests we attract tend to be more aware and are catching the notifications prior to the 911 calls being triggered. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before we see cases begin to pop up, or software engineers fine tune the functions further for the real world activities users are engaged in.”

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