Online cab aggregator Uber has integrated SOS button into its Help button across all 22 cities of its operation, in case of an emergency while on a ride. To access it, a user needs to click on the Help button in the app, which will display Safety Emergency and Help options. As of now, the company told MediaNama that the police control solution was live only in Kolkata, and that it was in advanced talks with other local police to deploy it in the next few weeks.
On pressing Safety Emergency, users will have the option to connect with the local police through phone. Note that Instant alerts will be sent only to the local police authorities who have deployed Uber’s SOS alert solution and the company’s Incident Response Team will be able to monitor and provide instant phone support and relay trip information to the police. An automated text message will also be sent to the rider’s emergency contacts.
Introduction of the SOS & Share My ETA button
The SOS button, which was introduced in February, would alert the local police in case of an emergency, the company said, adding that it would have a second safety feature allowing users to easily share their trip details and real time location with up to 5 friends and family members. In May, it upgraded its in-app SOS button to have have closer coordination with local police control rooms in case of an emergency.
Uber had also introduced an improved Share My ETA button that allowed passengers to send their complete trip details and set up a local and dedicated customer support center that will specialise on resolving critical issues for Uber riders and its driver community in India.
Earlier in January, Uber was sued by the Delhi rape victim for negligence & fraud in the US federal court, and the victim had hired New York-based litigator Douglas Wigdor. However, last month, the person withdrew their complaint after a US District Court dismissed the case.
Two way number masking
Last month, the company introduced a number masking feature in India, after rival Ola introduced it, where neither the driver, nor the rider’s number will be displayed when making or receiving a call. The company said that it had tested the technology with hundreds of drivers in cities across India, with plans to roll out throughout the country soon. It did not mention what technology it was using for this initiative.
Funding and focus on India
In August, Tata Opportunities Fund (TOF) made a ‘significant investment’ in Uber to expand its services and solutions in India, by making use of TOF’s network within the Tata Group and outside of it. In the same month, it raised around $1 billion in funding from Microsoft and The Times Group’s parent company Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited, bringing the company’s total funding to over $5 billion according to reports. At that time, Uber said that it would expand to markets outside the US, most noticeably in India (its second largest market), where it would pump $1 billion over the coming year.
Our Uber coverage here.
Image Credit: Flickr user L.A. Foodie
Corrigendum: A previous version of this article stated that Uber’s SOS button was launched in 22 cities. However, this feature has been available for a while now. The company has now integrated the SOS button within the Help option. We regret the error.