Apple’s Crash Detection feature is meant to call 911 in case of a car accident automatically. However, it has been causing unintended consequences at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee. The feature has been triggered by festival-goers dancing and enjoying the music, resulting in a spike of false emergency calls that overwhelmed local first responders.
The Bonnaroo Music Festival is a significant music event in the U.S., attracting over 80,000 people annually. It features over 150 acts from various genres of music and offers multiple activities and attractions, such as art installations, yoga sessions, and comedy shows.
This year’s festival brought an unexpected challenge for the Coffee County 911 communications center, which received about five times as many false 911 calls as in previous years. Most of these calls were caused by Apple’s Crash Detection feature, which misinterpreted the movements of festival-goers as signs of a car crash.
Bonnaroo Music Festival
The Crash Detection feature uses sensors and algorithms to detect when a user has been involved in a severe car accident. It gives the user 20 seconds to respond to a notification before calling 911 and sharing their location with emergency services. However, the feature can also be triggered by situations that are not car accidents, such as skiing, riding roller coasters, or dancing at a music festival.
First responders contacted Apple during the festival to report the problem and ask for assistance. Apple offered to send engineers to the festival site to help diagnose and fix the issue.
To cope with the situation, the Manchester Police Department asked festival-goers to turn off the Crash Detection feature on their devices until the end of the festival. This helped reduce the number of false 911 calls by “40 to 60 percent”.
Despite the inconvenience caused by the false 911 calls, first responders could handle every call and ensure no real emergencies were missed or delayed.
The Crash Detection feature has also proven useful and effective in some cases where it detected natural car accidents and helped save lives.
The Bonnaroo Music Festival ended on Sunday with performances by Foo Fighters, Megan Thee Stallion, Lizzo, and more. The festival is expected to return next year on June 15-18.