Ford Sync Feature Spotlight: 911 Assist + Vehicle Health Reports

There are many systems out there that enable in-vehicle safety and security features.  OnStar, Safety Connect, Tele-Aid to name a few… These systems are generally expensive options and require monthly fees, but offer advanced features, embedded mobile wireless and call center support.

Ford Sync offers, amongst other features (also discussed on this site), 911 assist and vehicle health reports as standard features of the relatively inexpensive system.

911 Assist

The Ford Sync system enables automatic 911 dialing in the event of an airbag deployment.  When a bluetooth phone is paired to the system and the airbag is deployed the system uses the paired phone to connect people in the vehicle directly to a 911 operator.  At that point a pre -recorded message is played for the 911 operator (in case the occupants are unconscious) after which the occupants can communicate directly with the operator (ya know, assuming consciousness).  The location can be determined by the operator through voice-signal triangulation and GPS (with some phones).

Ford says in a press release that the key advantage of the system is that by removing the call center calls are connected to a 911 operator more quickly.  That might be true, but the real value in this system is that it’s free.  That means every sync owner has a chance of being connected directly to a 911 operator without any extra effort, sign up or cost on their part.  I’m not sure what the subscription rate is for OnStar, but the usage rate for Ford Sync is 100% of anyone that bluetooth connects a phone to system (because it’s automatic, get it?).  At the same time, Ford has kept their own costs down by not creating a system that relies on expensive call centers.

All that being said, it should be noted that this is not a perfect system  (you get what you pay for, after all).  Embedded systems are subject to being damaged from an accident, but if you’ve ever been in a significant accident you know that everything not bolted down goes flying all over the place (including your cell phone).  A phone is more likely to be damaged in an accident than an embedded system (which would prevent dialing 911).  Not having a call center also means that you can’t deliver certain services, but that is a discussion for another day.

Overall this is a net gain for customers.  Even though the features are maybe not as polished or reliable as an embedded system there is no question that there is significant benefit in delivering these same services at a lower price point to a much broader audience.

Vehicle Health Reports

The Sync system will also allow users to set up personalized preferences for Vehicle Health Reports.  Through the users website they can establish their preferences and then when in the vehicle can request a report be sent at any time (at no cost).

The system gathers the information and transmits it to Ford via an 800-number (to keep costs down for the user, presumably).  Once the information is delivered to and analyzed by Ford the report is created and e-mailed / texted to the vehicle owner.

This is a nice add-on feature for vehicle owners, but not exactly ground breaking.  As with any remote diagnostic system, the data probably benefits the OEM more than the customer.  Still, it’s adds value to the Ford Sync system and doesn’t cost the user anything.

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