South Africa: Uber adds new safety features for drivers

May 27, 2018

Ride-hailing service Uber hopes the launch of its latest safety feature will further improve the safety of drivers and passengers.

It announced that it was partnering with Aura, a security technology service that would allow Uber drivers to be connected to the closest private security response vehicle through a nationwide network of security and medical response partners.

Uber's partnership with Aura started in 2016 during a three-month long pilot of SOS buttons for Johannesburg Uber drivers. This was followed in 2017 by a telephone number provided to Uber drivers, which was linked to Aura's central control room.

The latest feature would bypass the need to make a phone call, and connect Uber drivers in an emergency situation with the nearest security. Alon Lits, Uber's general manager in Sub-Saharan Africa, said he hoped the latest feature would show the company was committed to the safety of its "driver-partners" and passengers.

"The new introduction of our technology builds on Uber's philosophy, and has helped evolve security by offering smart technology that cuts out the middleman, enabling driver-partners to connect with the closest security or medical response partner at the touch of a button," he said.

Lits said the company had implemented a host of new security features over the past few years, as violence between the meter taxi industry and drivers of ride-hailing services increased.

'We need to see more arrests made'

He said the added security features had seen a big decline in weekly incidents involving Uber drivers, but he called on more government and law enforcement engagement. "Hopefully we are close to seeing an end to the taxi intimidation," he said.

"We need to see more arrests made, and that (the violence) is unacceptable. We call on law enforcement to ensure that arrests are made."

Aura CEO Warren Myers said, not only would drivers be able to connect to the nearest private security vehicle, but that they would also be able to connect with the South African Police Service and emergency services if needed. 

"The new introduction of our technology builds on Uber's philosophy, and has helped evolve security by offering smart technology that cuts out the middleman, enabling driver-partners to connect with the closest security or medical response partner at the touch of a button," he said. 

"We are proud champions of the 'Uberisation' of on-demand security app for businesses. The ability to offer our rapid mobile response technology to drivers and delivery partners across the Uber platform itself is an exciting venture."

Uber said the new safety feature would be implemented in a phased rollout, meaning it wouldn't immediately be available to all drivers.

 

Source: news24

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