Company seeking drivers to use accident-notification app
January 22, 2017 12:00 AM
By Ed Blazina / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A national company is looking for volunteers to test a cell phone app that is supposed to immediately report traffic accidents, and it’s willing to pay.
But no one will get rich — the payment for participating is a maximum of $30 over three months, plus the opportunity for bonuses.
Agero Inc., a Medford, Mass., company, wants drivers to voluntarily share information about where they drive by downloading a free app called MileUp on their iPhone or Android devices. Essentially, the company wants to crowd-source 3 million miles of driving information to make sure the app will work as intended.
Agero works with auto insurance companies such as Progressive and manufacturers such as Ford and Toyota as the country’s largest provider of emergency dispatch services when someone reports an accident. The app is designed to detect when the cell phone user is in a vehicle and reduce fatalities by an immediate notification to 911 if it is involved in a crash.
“The application will wake up once it realizes the user is in a vehicle,” said Christina DeRosa, Agero’s chief product and marketing officer. “This is really about a research and development project to save lives. It’s a great ‘Why not?’ app.”
In addition to receiving a small payment based on mileage — averaging 37 miles a day will generate the highest payout — drivers can earn bonuses for such things as referring others to use the app. A motorist involved in an accident during the test period can get $250 for verified accident information.
Ms. DeRosa stressed that the test information will be deleted almost immediately to protect user privacy.
“We won’t know who you are, where you live, or anything like that,” she said.
Once the testing is complete, Agero will market the app to insurance companies so they can encourage their customers to use it. It would be up to insurers to decide how they want to use any information collected through the MileUp app, Agero said.
Other devices in the marketplace can be installed in vehicles to track driving. General Motors sells the OnStar system for emergency communication, and Allstate Insurance offers a device called Drivewise that records driving habits and gives rewards for safe driving.
Peter Swire, a privacy expert and Huang Professor of Law and Ethics in the Scheller College of Business at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said motorists shouldn’t be concerned about giving information about their location to an organization such as Agero. He’s more concerned about how that information might be used by insurers.
“It’s easy to figure out where most people are because there are so many ways to do it,” he said. “My only question is whether the information would go to your auto insurance. Insurance companies could use it to change rates based on where you drive.”
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