Mass Innovations, From The Beacon, October 2018

Springfield is the first city in Massachusetts and seventh in the nation to pilot a new feature that offers additional information from people who call 911 from within the Uber ride-hailing mobile app, along with precise location tracking of mobile 911 calls.

Through a partnership between emergency response company RapidSOS and the Rave Smart911 system that the city previously adopted, emergency calls placed from mobile phones will now provide a more precise location to dispatchers – an improvement over the more conventional triangulation based on nearby cell towers.

Dispatchers will automatically receive the caller’s name, the car’s license plate number, make and model, and the caller’s pick-up and drop-off location from the Uber app when a customer uses the in-app 911 feature that Uber rolled out in May. Dispatchers will see the information even when a passenger is unable to speak.

Springfield Emergency Communications Director D. Jeremy DeMar said that the Uber pilot came up in conversations with Rave officials, and city officials believed it would be a good fit in Springfield.

“I felt with the opening of the [MGM Springfield] casino [on Aug. 24], and more visitors and folks obviously using Uber, it was a logical next step: be early adopters, test it out a bit, and offer an additional layer of safety and security for people visiting the city,” DeMar said.

The most recent Apple iOS operating system release provides the additional information for precise location to 911 centers through RapidSOS’ data clearinghouse, DeMar said.

On Sept. 19, Google announced that it had reached an agreement with RapidSOS to provide the same improved location information. Google’s Android operating system accounts for 36.3 percent of the mobile market share in the U.S., and Apple’s iOS accounts for 63.5 percent, covering virtually the entire market.

DeMar pointed out that anyone, whether in Springfield or not, can go to Rave’s website and complete an emergency profile with additional information about themselves, including medical conditions. If they then call 911 in a city or town that uses Rave Smart911, dispatchers will receive that additional information.

For more information, contact Springfield Emergency Communications Director D. Jeremy DeMar at 413-787-6409 or jdemar@springfieldpolice.net.

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