Ride-hailing app Uber today announced several new improvements to double down on safety in the app, strengthen their screening process, and brought in a new advisor to help shape Uber’s next chapter.
The changes will first come in across the water in America this summer and include the following:
New Features and Investments
Uber have updated their app with safety in mind, locating all things safety in one central place and making it accessible directly from the home screen during a trip. Existing features like Share My Trip will be easier to find and new ones will be added:
Safety Center: Riders will soon have a dedicated place in the app where they can learn about key safety information, including tips built in partnership with law enforcement, driver screening processes, insurance protections and community guidelines.
Trusted Contacts: Riders will be able to designate up to five friends and family members as Trusted Contacts, and be prompted to share trip details with them during every ride. This makes it easier than ever to share your trip, so loved ones can follow along and know when you’ve arrived.
Emergency Assistance: While no one should ever have to call the emergency services when using Uber, the ride-hailing firm claim no form of transportation is 100 percent free of incidents. The Uber app will soon include a new emergency button that will connect you directly with emergency services. Importantly, this feature will show you your real-time location in the app—both on a map and as an address—so you can share it directly with the operator. This feature will soon launch for drivers too.
911 integration pilot: Federal regulators in America estimate about 10,000 lives could be saved every year if first responders were able to get to a 911 caller just one minute faster. Uber are teaming up with RapidSOS to pilot 911 integration with local emergency authorities, starting in Denver. If a rider uses Uber’s emergency button in one of the pilot cities, their location and trip details will be automatically sent to the 911 dispatcher. Uber will be monitoring this pilot closely and evaluating further expansion.
Modernising 911 communications: Eighty percent of 911 calls come from mobile phones and, because of the way wireless technology works, calls are sometimes routed to the wrong 911 center. Uber are partnering with the National Emergency Number Association on a project to improve communications between the nation’s thousands of 911 centers. In the short term, this investment will create an enhanced, geographically searchable database to help emergency dispatchers more quickly connect callers to the correct 911 center.
Strengthening Driving Screening
Since Uber got started nearly nine years ago, the firm claim to have conducted criminal and driving record screenings on millions of people. Uber day that whilst no background check is perfect, their process is thorough, fair, and relevant to the work at hand. Moving forward Uber have said they will increase due diligence to strengthen their screening process:
Annual reruns: In the past, Uber conducted background check reruns in jurisdictions where required. Going forward, the company will proactively rerun criminal and motor vehicle checks each year, regardless of whether there is a legal obligation to do so.
New offense notifications: Uber will go beyond annual reruns and be among the first to invest in technology that rapidly identifies new offenses. Using data sources that cover most new criminal offenses, Uber will receive notifications when a driver is involved and leverage this information to help continuously enforce their screening standards.
Expanding our safety advisory board
Uber’s Safety Advisory Board was created in 2015 to bring new approaches, feedback, and expertise to our safety processes and technology. Today Dara Khosrowshahi excitedly announced their first chairman of the board; Jeh Johnson.
Mr Johnson is a former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and will join Uber’s Safety Advisory Board as Chairman. From leading the country’s efforts to keep Americans safe to protecting the traveling public from the Ebola virus, Secretary Johnson is said to bring in global expertise that reflects Uber’s size and scale.
Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s CEO said:
“Since 2009, Uber has been helping people move safely around their cities, countries, and the world. These changes will build on the safety benefits that ridesharing already brings, such as helping people avoid drunk driving, providing GPS tracked records of every trip, and 24/7 feedback and response from our safety team.
“Technology can make travel safer than ever before. And while there’s been a lot of progress, we’re committed to doing more.
“When it comes to safety, Uber is ready to move forward.”