After rape claim, Uber will add ‘panic button’ to India app

Technology

Indian residents walk past police buses outside the Tis Hazari District court in New Delhi on January 15, 2015. (Credit: SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK — Uber is about to install a panic button.

The button will be an option starting Wednesday in the smartphone app for users in India. It “allows a rider to alert the local police at the push of a button in case of an emergency,” Uber said.

It is one of several moves the company is taking in the name of safety after a woman reported she was raped by an Uber driver in New Delhi.

The alleged December incident sparked protests, and authorities responded by pulling the car service off the road. About six weeks later, Uber resumed operations in New Delhi as a not-for-profit service and applied to be licensed like a traditional taxi service.

In a blog post outlining its safety efforts, the company explained that customers won’t see a big red button mounted in the vehicle — “There is no way to ensure that they are kept in working condition across all the cars in the city,” for one. Instead, users will find “an easily accessible in-app panic button that one can activate with a single tap.”

Uber said it has already instituted independent background checks for all drivers in India. The driver who allegedly committed the rape was found to have multiple criminal charges pending against him.

Uber also says it is creating “a dedicated local Incident Response Team” and will expand its tracking feature to “allow users to easily share their trip details and real-time location with up to 5 friends and family members.”

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