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Uber riders in Cambridge can now hail 911 through their app

Uber riders who find themselves in an unsafe situation in Cambridge can now swipe in their Uber app to get connected with the city's Emergency Communications Department.

When a rider connects with Cambridge 911, his or her live trip details will be sent to a Cambridge dispatcher. This includes the cars make and color, plate number and location, as well as any information the rider has previously entered into the app's "safety profile" form.

Cambridge officials say this should get emergency responders to a rider in trouble much faster than before:

Previously, 9-1-1 call takers had to rely on legacy and often outdated location information, which could be anywhere from 10-500+ meters off and cost precious time during critical emergency situations. Through this new integration with Uber, the 9-1-1 call taking process will be greatly enhanced by receiving information via the Uber application about the caller.

Understandably, 911 call-takers frequently receive incomplete or inaccurate location descriptions from callers during an emergency. Public safety answering points (PSAPs) have had to traditionally rely on network-based location information to locate wireless callers. Applications like Uber, on the other hand, locate users with a device-based approach that relies on multiple sources of information available on a device (GPS, WiFi access points, etc). Corroborating location information across multiple sources can increase accuracy, especially in environments where a single source may be compromised. While using the Uber app, this information is available immediately on the device, so that the location will be available to 911 even before the call is received.

The Uber integration is in addition to the Smart 911 app the city already made available to residents via the Apple Store and Google Play, which lets users enter everything from family photos to medical information and emergency contacts, for automatic relaying to a Cambridge 911 dispatcher in an emergency.

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This is awesome!! Can't wait until the surrounding cities all have something similar.

Voting closed 4

A 911 app is a stupid idea.

The whole point of 911 is that it's universal. Any phone in the country -- just pick it up and dial. You don't need to install anything, and you don't need to know what city you're in and if they support it.

And texting 911? Really? How long would that conversation take? Ok, if you're hiding from a scary person and you don't want them to hear you, it could help. But how often does that happen? And isn't it important to be pay attention rather than texting in that situation?

Voting closed 2