Beginning on February 11, Uber will launch an in-app panic button for passengers in India. The switch is designed to alert the police should passengers feel threatened in any way whatsoever. Since the alleged rape of a Uber passenger in India by one of the company’s driver, Uber has been threatened, hence the development of the panic button.
Interestingly enough, this panic button will not be exclusive to India, as Uber reports it should be available worldwide soon enough.
The transportation department in India had demanded a physical panic button in every Uber cab, but so far, the taxi company could only manage to create a digital button. We doubt the department will settle for this, thus meaning in the coming months, every Uber vehicle running in India might very well have a physical panic button.
Apart from the in-app panic button, Uber has included a more rigorous driver screening program. The company also explained why it did not choose to go ahead with the idea of placing physical panic buttons in every car.
“Imagine you enter the vehicle of a driver who works on four platforms. His/ her car will need to have four physical panic buttons,” says Uber in a blog post. “In a situation of distress the rider would have to pick the correct operator’s panic button to be able to get help on time. That’s 25% chance of success; and a decision that has to be made and executed in a split-second, if at all.”
The company went on to add that physical buttons are prone to wear and tear, and also mechanical malfunction. Now, this is true, but we believe the digital panic button requires an internet connection, so what should passengers do if they are out of service?
A physical panic button should still be added as a second option just in case the digital button fails to work.