Ride-sharing company Uber has revealed in a post on its official blog that it will be rolling out an update to its app in India to add a pair of new features for the safety of their customers.
The new features are a panic button and real-time sharing of the rider's trip and location with up to five family members and friends.
The features were announced by Uber after the release of a report that the Mumbai Transportation Department is considering to ban Uber after the company was not able to meet the deadline of Jan. 15 to implement safety measures in Uber vehicles.
Uber said that the app's panic button will allow customers to instantly send an alert to the local police for any emergency at just one push of a button located within the Uber app.
The Safety Net feature of the app will allow customers to send updates to as many as five people regarding the details of their trip and where they are currently located.
Uber also said that it has established an Incident Response Team in India that will be tasked with handling emergency cases. The group will be overseeing and responding to cases that are reported by customers, and will also receive an alert whenever a customer presses the app's panic button.
However, Uber is still unsure regarding the installation of a panic button that will be physically located in the vehicles of its drivers, claiming that the buttons could cause confusion and can malfunction due to wear and tear.
Uber said that it will only consider installing physical panic buttons if there is only one such button in a car; the responsibility of installing panic buttons should fall on the owner of the car; and pressing the button initiates a direct call to the local police.
Uber said that it has shared all the data that the company has on its current drivers and vehicles to the Mumbai Transportation Department and police force to assist in the verification process of Uber drivers. All drivers who are looking to operate under Uber are first directed to acquire clearance from the crime division of the police department.
In addition, Uber has also started a country-wide screening program for drivers through First Advantage, a third-party provider for background checks. The program will cover the thousands of drivers operating under Uber in the country, and will include verifying the address of drivers, searching for criminal cases in local courts and searching through the criminal database of India.