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Uber Doubles Down With New Safety and Privacy Features

Sept. 05, 2018
4 min read
Uber Doubles Down With New Safety and Privacy Features
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Exactly one year after Uber hired a new CEO, the company's new leader announced some big improvements to its safety and privacy features.

Uber's had to deal with many PR nightmares regarding driver and rider safety. Last week, an Uber driver shot and killed another driver who was tailing him and a recent report revealed that 103 drivers have been accused of sexual assault in recent years.

However, the company has been taking steps to improve its image and introduce new technology and policies to make Uber safer, including enhanced driver background checks and an in-app emergency alert button.

This morning at an event in New York City, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi announced major enhancements to the way Uber deals with safety and privacy.

The first improvement on the rider side is a new feature called "Ride Check" that will roll out over the next few months.

Using a phone's sensors and GPS technology, Ride Check can detect if a car may have been in an accident or if something else has gone wrong during a ride. If the app thinks something is amiss, it will check in with both the rider and driver and offer a handful of options like call 911, contact the Uber safety line or tell Uber that everything is ok.

Additionally, if a ride has taken a longer than normal, the app will send a Ride Check notification asking if everything is normal. Khosrowshahi says this feature will eventually expand to work in other scenarios.

Uber's had to deal with an array of privacy concerns — it took a lot of heat after it was revealed that the ride-hailing company was tracking riders locations after they were dropped off.

But in an effort to increase user privacy and give riders a greater sense of safety, it's introducing "address anonymization." This will conceal specific pickup and dropoff addresses in the driver's trip history — now drivers will only see the general area where a trip started and ended. This build's on the ability to enter a cross street as a destination instead of an exact address, for those who don't want to share their final destination.

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Uber says it has approximately 3 million active drivers across the world, and it wants to make it easier and safer for them to do their job. It plans on launching voice-activated commands that will allow drivers to accept rides and use with the app without having to look away from the road or tap on their screen.

Sachin Kansal, director of safety product at Uber speaks about safety enhancements coming to the Uber app. Image by Zach Honig / The Points Guy.

Rider safety features that it rolled out earlier this year will now be available to drivers, too. Drivers will now be able to share a trip with a friend or family member or access the emergency button if they feel like their safety is compromised. It will now be available to drivers in the US and Canada.

"We want to be synonymous with safety," said Khosrowshahi, adding that this is just the beginning for Uber's journey toward becoming a safer company.

Its also expanding its 911 integration pilot to more cities where one's location and car information is automatically shared with 911 operators after the emergency button is activated.

And for those worried about their data and financial information's security, riders can use two step verification whenever they log-in to their account to make it harder for hacker's to gain access to their account.