Ridesharing giant Uber this week announced that it is testing a new text-to-9-1-1 feature, allowing riders and drivers to quickly and discreetly contact First Responders in the event of an emergency.
According to Uber:
Last year, we added an emergency button in the Uber app to connect riders and drivers directly to 9-1-1 in case of an emergency. Now, we’re adding an option to send a text message to 9-1-1 in cities and counties that support this technology. We’ll automatically draft a text message that includes trip details like the car’s make and model, license plate, and location so that 9-1-1 operators can respond quickly.
Text-to-9-1-1, currently available in several Maryland counties, is a component of Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911), an initiative aimed at updating the 9-1-1 service infrastructure to improve public emergency communications services in a wireless mobile society. NG911 will improve and enhance the handling of 9-1-1 calls from cell phone users with technology that will increase response times, location accuracy, and allow text, photo, and video data to be shared by callers to First Responders on their way to the emergency.
Advancing NG911 is a priority for county governments. Earlier this year, Governor Larry Hogan signed SB 339/ HB 397, Public Safety – 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone System (Carl Henn’s Law), a 2019 MACo Legislative Initiative to update state laws, and the 9-1-1 financing system to provide the flexibility and resources needed for the deployment of a statewide Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) system.
Carl Henn’s Law was introduced at the request of the Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland. The legislation, sponsored by Senator Cheryl Kagan (Commission Chair), Senator Ed Reilly (Commissioner), Delegate Susan Krebs (Commissioner), and Delegate Michael Jackson (Commissioner), includes many of the Commission’s 23 unanimous recommendations.
Maryland residents demand and expect 9-1-1 emergency service to be reliable and efficient. Next-generation technology is required to keep up with this increasingly complex public safety function – improving wireless caller location, accommodating incoming text/video, and managing crisis-driven call overflows.
Carl Henn’s law will accelerate Maryland’s move toward NG911, deliver these essential services equitably across the state, and assure effective coordination with communications providers.
The Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland, a 2018 MACo Legislative Initiative, submitted its 2018 report to the Governor and General Assembly in December of last year. The report includes recommendations for the implementation, technology, funding, governance, and ongoing statewide development of Next Generation 9-1-1.
The Commission is scheduled to submit its 2019 report later this year.