A new set of safety measures is being rolled out by Uber that will enable its users to communicate with a real-life safety agent and send texts to 911 dispatchers in the event of an emergency. According to Rebeca Payne, lead project manager on Uber’s safety team, some of the features can help riders feel more comfortable and can enable more access to emergency services, as she discussed with ABC News.
More than half of the United States, including major metropolitan areas like New York City and California, will soon be able to use Uber’s new service that allows users to text 911 operators for immediate emergency response.
Payne estimated that 55% of The Population May Benefit from This Technology
Payne explained that this year they began testing “text-to-911” in those areas where it was legal to send texts to 911 dispatchers. This news brings that service to all U.S. counties where it is now offered.
When passengers utilize the app’s text-to-911 feature, a prewritten message is sent to emergency personnel, detailing the trip details and the position of the vehicle. As Payne put it, this is a “discreet” means for people to contact emergency services.
Through a collaboration with the security firm ADT, a new feature known as “live help” will allow riders, drivers, and couriers to have direct conversations with a safety agent. According to Uber, riders who send a message through the app will be contacted by a qualified safety agent through phone calls or text messages.
After finding an available agent, riders can remain on the line with them until they are ready to hang up or their ride is over. As Payne put it, “they may utilize that for any situation that isn’t yet rising to the need to summon police or other emergency services like fire department or ambulance,” but in which the person may feel unsafe or uncomfortable and require someone to guide them through it.
She reported that after testing the function in nine cities across the United States towards the close of the previous year, users’ reactions were “overwhelmingly favorable.”