The Regina Police Service has a request for iPhone users after an unusually high number of 9-1-1 hang-up calls to the Communications Centre over the weekend. It appears this has been generated by numerous messages shared on social media about instructing “Siri” to place a phone call. (Siri is a part of Apple Inc.’s iOS which works as an intelligent personal assistant and “knowledge navigator” allowing a person to use voice commands to make calls, schedule meetings and other actions.) The messages on twitter, Facebook and other social media prompt people with a teaser like, “Say 9/11 into Siri and you’ll be amazed”, or “When you say 9/11 to Siri, her response is hilarious”.
The response isn’t hilarious. What happens next is: the iPhone dials 9-1-1, accessing a 911 Communications Officer, who answers the phone call with, “9-1-1…where is your emergency?” At that point, the iPhone user often panics and hangs up, but the consequences don’t end there. When someone dials 9-1-1 and hangs up, the Communications Officer is obligated to call the phone owner back to establish whether or not there is a bona fide emergency. Without more information, there is no way to tell if the 9-1-1 call is a prank or real. The process of re-establishing contact can involve several tries and can tie up resources that could be needed for real emergent situations. In the most serious situations, where a person misleads police and causes them to enter into an investigation, there could be a criminal charge resulting.
The Regina Police Service is asking people to be aware of the consequences of this latest fad. We are fortunate, so far, that there haven’t been real 9-1-1 emergencies where help has been delayed. Please, choose to be a good citizen and DON’T ask Siri about 9/11.
The Regina Police Service thanks the public for their assistance in this matter.