Chinese navigation service Baidu Maps is rolling out a traffic alarm feature aimed at warning surrounding cars when an ambulance is approaching, a project that includes 500 emergency vehicles in Beijing.

Baidu has partnered with the Beijing Emergency Medical Center, Beijing Red Cross 999 Emergency Call Center, and Beijing Yizhong Charity Foundation to test the feature. Testing is also underway in the city of Jiujiang in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangxi. The feature is expected to be implemented nationwide though no time frame has been given.

The feature will send emergency alerts to nearby cars when an ambulance is approaching, requesting they move aside for the emergency vehicle. The data from emergency call centers will be integrated into Baidu Map’s Hawkeye system to enable real-time tracking of the traffic and improve the accuracy of the broadcast range.

“Through the partnership with the relevant authorities, we believe emergency alert will have a huge social impact by delivering information to car owners near the ambulance in real time,” said Liu Yuting, deputy general manager of Baidu Maps Business Department.

Liu said the feature has undergone optimization and notifications to surrounding cars could be sent out in less than a second.

Chinese tech giants have been trying to empower city management with technology. Baidu Maps rival AutoNavi has a similar emergency alarm feature. Alibaba introduced its City Brain to Chinese cities, including Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Guangzhou, as well as in Malaysia for traffic management. Alibaba’s City Brain program is also available to the city’s rescue and firefighting emergencies.

The country’s police force has also employed consumer-facing technologies for emergency response. In Shaanxi, law enforcement allows people to report crimes and emergencies through WeChat. Smartphone users can also share their whereabouts directly with the police.

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.

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