Uber rolls out new 9-1-1 emergency app here in Idaho

Posted at 12:55 PM, Mar 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-10 14:55:44-04

BOISE, Idaho — Uber riders and drivers in Idaho will now be able to text 9-1-1 from Uber’s new in-app emergency button starting Tuesday. The feature is available everywhere in the state except Canyon and Latah Counties where the Text to 9-1-1 is not currently operating, according to an Uber press release.

The new feature will be part of the 9-1-1 Assistance button housed inside Uber’s Safety Toolkit. Riders and
drivers will be able to choose between texting or calling 9-1-1 should they need emergency assistance while on a trip with Uber.

While calling 9-1-1 is preferred by first responders, if riders or drivers cannot call, then they will have the option to text.

“In an emergency, every second counts. This new addition to the app will allow Uber users to reach out to 9-1-1 in situations where they may not be able to make a phone call,” said Sachin Kansal, Uber’s Head of Safety Products.

When used, the text to 9-1-1 feature populates an SMS text message to 9-1-1 with key trip details including location and vehicle information. Uber product managers say they consulted with 9-1-1 dispatchers to determine which information to include in an initial text message to 9-1-1.

Riders and drivers will be able to include additional information about their emergency before sending a text message to 9-1-1 dispatchers. Dispatchers will be able to stay in communication with the person who reached out until law enforcement or first responder units arrive.

“We are always exploring ways to help make travel safer,” said Kansal. “After piloting this feature in Los Angeles, Minnesota, and Indiana, we are excited to expand it into more regions where text to 9-1-1 is available.”

According to the FCC, text to 9-1-1 is only available in certain locations. If Text to 9-1-1 is not available, the user will get a response clarifying that text to 9-1-1 is not available in that specific area, the news release said.

(Images courtesy Uber)