OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A controversial new mobile app now live in Oakland connects 911 callers directly to Oakland police dispatchers, for a fee.

The BlueLight app, which costs $19.99 a year or $9.99 a year for students, starting Thursday, directly routes calls placed in Oakland to Oakland police dispatchers. Your cellphone can already do that, for free. So why would you even consider getting the app?

BlueLight explains the problem like this: “911 often has trouble locating you from a mobile phone, a landline – which is registered to a 911 database – is a safer way to make sure 911 can find you.”

So in early April, the app is expected to also provide the caller’s GPS coordinates and contact information to dispatchers.

Critics of the new app say the service, while certainly useful, only helps those who can afford to pay for it and therefore only allows people with enough money to get access to expedited emergency services.

This month, Oakland police dispatchers are being trained in the new technology and familiarizing themselves with BlueLight, according to the company.

But with many people using mobile phones, the company says that their app bridges the digital divide and connects the caller to the closest responder based on their GPS location.

The app also has a trip-sharing feature that allows users to keep their contacts updated on their location, in real time.

BlueLight is currently offering a free trial, but it should be noted that emergency calls only work in Oakland.

By Hannah Albarazi – Follow her on Twitter: @hannahalbarazi.

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