In December of 2014, an Uber driver in India was arrested after a female passenger accused him of rape. Uber, already on he defensive over allegations of playing fast and loose with user safety in the US, stepped up to create tools that would help put Indian officials and customers at ease.
One such tool was the SOS button, which Uber introduced a couple of months ago. When in a dangerous situation, tapping the SOS button would automatically connect you with the police.
Now, the SOS button is getting a bit more proactive – it'll now send pertinent information to the proper authorities.
When you hit the button, an "SOS alert" is automatically sent to a screen in a police control room. Here's whats in that alert, according to Uber:
The instantaneous alert contains critical trip information including exact vehicle location (tracked via GPS). This information is projected on a dedicated screen in the control room of local law enforcement which has been set up by Uber’s safety experts. This latest tech upgrade to the existing SOS feature enables the police to act within seconds of being alerted in the rare event of an emergency, when every second counts.
The SOS button has been tested in Kolkata, and Uber says it's working to roll it out in other cities across India.
No such button exists in the US.
This is a good move from Uber, but it has to make you think – does the fact that I even need an SOS button say anything? How do I feel about having to have my finger poised to dial for help at any moment?
Uber recently updated US users on its ongoing efforts to make the service safer. Uber says it's committed, but it is capable?