First responders in San Francisco will now be able to track down passengers of ride-hailing service Uber faster during emergency situations, thanks to new technology that allows information sharing between Uber and the city’s Department of Emergency Management.
The new RapidSOS software technology will come in handy when riders use the Uber app’s emergency button, allowing 911 dispatchers in the city find out a rider’s precise location.
The technology, however, is only available on updated versions of iPhones and Androids, DEM officials said.
“This new technology with enhanced location services and travel information will help save lives. We are grateful that our private partners are working with us directly in making San Francisco safer for all our residents and visitors,” said DEM Executive Director Mary Ellen Carroll.
Although the software has been put to use in other cities, San Francisco is the first city in the Bay Area to use it.
“This feature is available in more than 60 cities, and we are proud to add San Francisco, our home, to the growing list,” said Uber Product Safety Manager Krishnaja Gutta.
“Every second counts in an emergency, and we want to make sure Uber users have important information to get help quickly
if faced with an emergency situation.”
Uber’s emergency button, also known as the 911 Assistance feature, is new and allows emergency dispatchers to find out key details, including information about the driver and rider, as well as a vehicle description, license plate number and direction of travel, in addition to the car’s exact location.
Before the use of RapidSOS, location information that users agree to provide on the app was not provided to the city’s 911 system during calls.
If the caller was unable to provide an exact location, 911 dispatchers would be forced to go through a lengthy process to find the caller’s location.