The two leading cab aggregators in the city — Uber and Ola — are investing heavily to make their taxis secure for women, by introducing safety features in their apps and conducting sensitisation programs for their drivers. This after safety of women commuters in the city had become an issue of grave concern, after several incidents of molestation and sexual harassment of passengers were reported against both operators over the past one year.
Ola alone claims to have invested $20 million (Rs 130 crore) in upgrading its security to ensure better protection of commuters, especially women. “Safety of users is paramount and Ola is committed to innovation to ensure safety of our commuters,” said Anand Subramanian, senior director (marketing communications), Ola. The company, he added, works with local authorities and leading agencies involved in background verification to ensure multi-layer verification of its drivers.
Uber did not disclose the exact amount it had invested in similar efforts, but sources said the company made a “substantial” investment in developing safety features. Uber India president Amit Jain said, “Safety is a priority for Uber and we’ve made many improvements — in terms of new technology, enhanced background checks and better 24/7 customer support – as a result of lessons we learnt from the awful rape case in December 2014.”
For instance, Uber took its partnership with Safetipin to a global level, after its success in India. Safetipin is a map-based mobile phone app, which provides information on safe zones in the city with the help of crowd-sourced audits. Following the success of the app in India, Uber launched it globally in September. Meanwhile, Ola launched an SOS button on its app, which sends the user’s exact location to their near and dear ones at times of crisis. As an extension, there’s a feature where the customer can contact police at the touch of their phone.
These live-tracking features have brought some relief to women commuters. “I travel late after work. The live-tracking app keeps my parents updated on my whereabouts,” said Soumya Rajpal, a senior business analyst working at E Value Serve who takes an Ola or Uber at least four times a week.
When asked about the efficiency of these measures, Rajpal said, “These companies can educate drivers more, but I don’t know what more a company can do if a person is a habitual offender.”
Recently, both Ola and Uber also launched privacy features where the commuter’s phone number isn’t disclosed to the drivers, along with frequent training and sensitization programs for drivers.
Google Play Store….. Personal & Women Safety App
Google Play Store….. GPS Tracker & Family Tracker