Uber testing feature similar to 'panic button' for emergencies

CLARKE COUNTY, Ga. — The next time you ride in an Uber, you may be able to reach 911 with the push of a button.

Safety has been top of mind for many riders since the murder of a South Carolina student who got in the wrong car.

Uber showed Channel 2's Lauren Pozen a new feature they are testing that will give dispatchers key information during an emergency.

Clarke County is the first county in Georgia to use the technology.

“We get immediate location information on where the caller is. It also gives us a description of the vehicle,” said Capt. Keith Kelley with the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.

Kelley said the feature gives first responders instant information as to where you are so help can get to you faster during emergency situations.

To see how it worked, Pozen requested an Uber and rode along with Kelley.


Pozen said the driver picked them up at the police department. While they were driving around, Kelley showed her in the app where you can click an emergency button and the phone instantly calls 911 to talk to a dispatcher.

The app also sends the dispatcher important information like the car you're in, the car’s license plate number and even where you are.

“This shows us more accuracy for the 911 operators as it's occurring. So as the vehicle is moving down the road we are getting a map with pins, locations of where the vehicle is,” Kelley said.

Our driver told us he's never had to use it, but as a parent thinks it's a great feature.

“We can’t be there all the time,” Stephane Germain said. “With that new feature added on the Uber app, me and my wife are much, much happier,”

Pozen called around to several other counties to see if this if this is something they might get behind, as well. Many told her they are aware of the technology, but there are no plans to move forward with it.

The one exception was the Atlanta Police Department. The department said they're currently testing out the technology with the 911 communications center.