Apparatus & Equipment, Tech Zone

Why Can Uber Find Me and 911 Can’t? Uber, RapidSOS Partner for Pilot Program

Uber and RapidSOS have announced a partnership to help rapildy address 911 location issues

Beginning with a pilot program in Denver, Colorado, when a driver/rider uses Uber’s new 911 Assistance feature, their precise location will be sent to 911 via the RapidSOS NG911 Clearinghouse. The result will be unprecedented location information shared with 911 in the event an Uber driver or passenger is in need of emergency assistance.

According to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, “We’re teaming up with RapidSOS to pilot 911 integration with local emergency authorities, starting in Denver. If a rider uses Uber’s emergency button in one of our pilot cities, their location and trip details will be automatically sent to the 911 dispatcher. We’ll be monitoring this pilot closely and evaluating further expansion.” More info available here.


Location is the most important piece of information needed to dispatch assistance during an emergency. The country’s 911 system was built more than 50 years ago, tailored for landline technology, and has been slow to adopt to ever-changing technology and data available via smartphones and other sources–making the already difficult job of 911 professionals even more burdensome.

Dispatchers frequently receive incomplete or inaccurate location descriptions from callers who are confused, in distress, or unable to verbally communicate. To date, 911 dispatchers have had to 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 increases 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 – saving precious time that dispatchers need to send help.


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