Uber partners with Safetipin to improve safety in India

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By Larry Banks

Uber is said to be working on improving safety for passengers in India, going a step further than introducing a panic button. The company said today that it will partner with Safetipin, a smartphone app that tries to assess the safety of specific neighbourhoods to help gather data and distribute to local governments.

Uber partners with Safetipin

The partnership begins on Wednesday and will reportedly run for just five months, during which time Uber will permit Safetipin’s auditors ride along in New Delhi to obtain information about the neighbourhoods. The company will also mount smartphones on the vehicle exteriors to capture images of road and city conditions, whilst also measuring each photo for selected criteria such as lighting, visibility, and the gender and diversity of people in the picture.

Uber Safetipin

Uber and Safetipin then send the information to governments and urban planners to suggest improvements – for example adding street lights. Furthermore, neighbourhoods are also rated in the Safetipin app, which passengers can also use to determine the safety of areas where they intend to travel. The partnership launches in New Delhi, but will soon come to Bogotá, Colombia, Nairobi and Kenya.

Various apps like Safetipin have come under criticism in the past, mainly because crowdsourcing a neighbourhood safety score may invite negative comments about that area. Also it’s not certain how useful that score is to women who may be unsure whether to make a trip, and even whether governments would implement any urban improvements suggested by smartphone apps.

Uber In-Car

In any case, at the very least, Uber can say that it’s working hard to eliminate the dangers that can be faced by people using its service.

“By working together on this meaningful cross-border initiative we hope to provide local communities with the technologies to enable them to travel more safely around their cities, here in India and around the world”, said Uber’s manager for New Delhi in a blog post.

Images Courtesy of DepositPhotos