Johannesburg - Following two recent attacks on Uber passengers in Gauteng by criminals hiding in the boot, Uber has stepped up its security efforts as it attempts to protect and reassure its customers. These include improvements to the current app as well as the trialling of an SOS panic button feature in Johannesburg and a dashcam initiative in Cape Town.
For starters, Uber is making it easier for customers to ensure they're getting into the correct vehicle by providing the driver's first name and photo along with the type of vehicle, its colour and licence plate number as soon as the trip has been accepted by the driver in question. However, this is a “phased roll-out” so not all users will see the changes straight away, as Uber tests different groups and user preferences.
Furthermore, Uber says that rides will be tracked using GPS and that riders will be able to share their ETA with loved ones, allowing them to see the trip in real time.
SOS buttons, dashcams trialled
Uber is also testing out two further innovations that might make trips even safer in future.
Key among these is an in-vehicle SOS button, which will be trialled in Johannesburg.
This will see panic buttons installed in select Uber partner vehicles and linked up to the company's central security system, which will monitor the devices around the clock. The initiative will also allow drivers to connect to a broad range of emergency services and receive advice in critical situations.
Should this system prove successful, Uber will consider rolling it out to other regions at a future date.
Also being trialled is a dashcam initiative in select Uber vehicles in Cape Town. The cameras record inside the vehicle and in front of it and customers are notified about its presence while hailing the ride, allowing them to decline if they're not comfortable with the idea.
“The purpose of these dash cameras is to provide riders and drivers with a sense of security knowing that if they are involved in an incident or accident that the event was recorded,” an Uber spokesperson said.