Uber launching new 911 feature in Los Angeles

Anabel Munoz Image
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
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Uber is launching a new 911 feature that is integrated with LAPD's system to provide detailed information in an emergency like the vehicle's location and model.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Uber is launching a new 911 feature in Los Angeles designed to improve emergency response for ride-sharing passengers.

The app will offer an emergency button to call 911. When the call is answered by the city of Los Angeles emergency system, it will share additional information on that specific Uber ride, such as the vehicle's model and license plate, and location.

Eyewitness News was offered the chance to test out the system.

The Los Angeles 911 operator was able to determine the initial location of the call as well as the Uber vehicle involved. There was a hiccup in the test of the live tracking feature as the vehicle moved locations.

"I think it's an important safety aspect for the citizens of Los Angeles," said Capt. David Storaker with LAPD's Communication Division

Companies like Uber and Lyft have been sharply criticized for complaints of physical or sexual assaults against both drivers and riders.

Uber says this 911 feature is designed to protect everyone. The idea is to deliver crucial information to emergency responders so they can get to you as soon as possible.

"Our users have told us, and we talked to law enforcement like LAPD here, what is the best way we can improve peace of mind," said Nirveek De with Uber.

Storaker noted that the feature is particularly useful for visitors to Los Angeles who might not be familiar with their location as they ride around the city in an Uber.

This technology is a glimpse into the future. The LAPD hopes to incorporate next-generation software sometime in the early 2020s with features that would enable callers to send videos and precise location details to 911 dispatchers.