A select group of people in South Carolina will be the test subjects for a new project designed to make an Uber ride safer.
The city of Charleston has been selected as a test site by Uber for a new 911 app keyed specifically to Uber rides. The app will automatically upload a rider’s trip details and his or her location to a emergency dispatcher. The app will be super easy and quick to use if the rider feels threatened during the ride. Some observers call it, “the panic button.”
Officials with Uber declined to say why South Carolina’s largest city is the perfect location to test the new security app, but they the 911 application will go nationwide if all goes well. The application is designed to enhance both rider and driver safety.
Making the app work involves solving a number of critical logistical and technological problems. For one thing, Uber needs software that can search databases geographically to enable riders to connect with local emergency services while essentially being a moving target.
Uber has been growing rapidly in popularity in South Carolina for several years. It surpassed the 1 million ride mark there almost three years ago and has completed millions more rides since. The company has experienced some growing pains here, however.
For example, South Carolina does not allow cab drivers to accept cash of any kind, including tips. But the Uber does not allow for accepting electronic tips. That means driver must technically break the law when the take a cash gratuity, so many are doing it “under the radar.”
As for the new 911 app, it’s all part of Uber’s effort to go the extra mile in dealing with one of the challenges the company has faced often — the issue of safety.