Uber is introducing a range of new safety features for riders and drivers, including RideCheck, a feature that detects trip irregularities, and audio recording, which will be rolled out as a pilot in India later this year.
The new features, which were announced at one of Uber’s biggest safety-focused events in the country, are aimed at further strengthening safety standards and underscore Uber’s continued global commitment to make safety one of its biggest priorities.
Today’s safety announcements include the following new features:
RideCheck: This new safety feature will enable Uber to flag certain trip irregularities, like long, unexpected stops or midway drops that might, in some rare cases, indicate an increased safety risk, especially for women. If an anomaly is detected, Uber will initiate a RideCheck by reaching out to both the rider and the driver. This marks the first step by Uber to proactively reach out to users during a trip and offer tools they may need to get help.
Audio Recording: Uber will be piloting audio recording as a pioneering safety feature in the Indian market in 2020. Once introduced, a rider or driver partner will have the choice to record audio through their phone while on-trip. When the trip ends, the user has the option to report a safety incident and submit the audio recording. The audio file shall be encrypted and the user cannot listen in to the stored recording on their device, but may choose to send it to Uber’s customer support agents who will use the audio to help better understand an incident and take appropriate actions. Only Uber will have access to the audio once the user submits it.
PIN Verification: The safety PIN is a trip verification feature to help ensure riders are getting into the car they are matched with through the app. Riders will receive a 4-digit PIN that they can provide verbally to their driver who can start the trip in the app only when the correct PIN is entered. In addition to the PIN, Uber announced it’s working on advanced technologies that will in the future use ultrasound waves to automatically transmit the safety PIN for verifying rides.
Speaking at the event, Sachin Kansal, Senior Director of Global Safety Products, Uber, said, “Our global safety product team has a simple but critical mission: to help set benchmarks for ridesharing safety. Over the past 3 years, we have introduced several features to enhance safety standards on our platform. Today, we raise the bar again as we work towards introducing Audio Recording in India as a pilot this year and roll-out the RideCheck feature for long stop and midway drop-offs. We have been piloting and refining these features in different markets globally to ensure they work well for both our riders and driver partners. Privacy is incredibly important for Uber and all these tools are designed keeping that in mind. We will continue to refine these technologies so we can help make every ride a 5-star experience for all.”
Uber continues to invest in strengthening women’s safety on its platform through a partnership with Manas Foundation, which has conducted thousands of customised Gender Sensitisation Workshops for Uber driver partners. So far this initiative has sensitised over 50,000 driver partners across eight cities in India. Uber remains committed to stepping up these efforts to sensitise more driver partners in 2020.
Addressing the importance of a holistic and collaborative approach towards safety, Rekha Sharma, Chairperson, National Commission of Women (NCW), said, “The Commission has been advocating for the safety of women during commute and a gender-sensitive approach to improving accessibility and safety for women. It gives me immense pleasure to see that Uber and Manas Foundation are working so closely together to implement our suggested gender sensitisation training to driver partners. This effort will not only reduce the inequalities of gender mobility but will also successfully engage men in making public transport safer for women.”