OnStar is amazing technology, simple but amazing. The amazing thing is that it is a single button push for "all things location" at least as far a vehicle is concerned. Need directions? Push the OnStar button. Concerned about traffic? Push the OnStar button. Need help with a flat tire? Push the OnStar button. It's what all high-tech things should aspire to be!
The incident involving Senator Bob Corker's (R-Tennessee) daughter is illustrative of both the advancements and advantages of location-based services (LBS). The Senator's daughter was assaulted and yanked out of her car when stopped at an intersection on the night of December 2, as reported by the Associated Press. The vehicle was equipped with OnStar. Police used OnStar's service to catch the carjackers and return the car later that night.
In a similar incident in October, OnStar's Stolen Vehicle Slowdown feature was used to capture another carjacker in Visalia, California. In this case, OnStar was able to slow the vehicle to idle speed with Remote Ignition Block whereby the vehicle is slowed but brakes and steering remain functional until the police can identify the vehicle.
The media love's these kind of stories but rarely understands all of the possible applications and underlying technology. CNN's Campbell Brown was reporting the story but should have provided some of the statistics such as how OnStar receives some 500 stolen vehicle requests each month. Now, that number seems high but consider that OnStar is usually installed on the more expensive car models. And, according to OnStar, "Subscribers who prefer not to have the Stolen Vehicle Slowdown capability on their vehicle may contact OnStar to opt out of the service at any time." But why? Privacy? Cost? Seems like a small price to pay for security.
Kudos to GM and OnStar. It continues to be the shining "star" of LBS apps.