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Uber India Introduces Passenger "Panic Button"

The button will allow people to share their location details with up to five people and simultaneously notify authorities.

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Uber India's app will now allow passengers to notify their friends or family when faced with any threat or danger with the push of a button.

Tengku Bahar / Getty Images

According to The Guardian, the Uber India app will contain a "panic button" that allows riders to notify the police in case of any emergencies, as well as a feature that will allow users to share location details with up to five friends.

The report also said Uber has indicated that a local team will be set up and will get notifications whenever the panic button is used.

The new features will be available on the app by Wednesday, Feb. 11, but Uber has only announced these new features in India, and not in other countries yet.

Transport commissioner Mahesh Zagade ordered that all private taxis should have panic switches near the passenger seat.

But Uber reportedly felt that these buttons would only "cause confusion and are prone to wear and tear."

Shailesh Sawlani, Uber general manager (Mumbai) said, in on Uber's official blog:

"As a technology company, Uber does not own the cars nor employs drivers. We partner with independent contractors who are licensed to provide commercial transportation by the government. This means that these drivers are free to work with other operators as well. Imagine you enter the vehicle of a driver who works on four platforms. His/her car will need to have four physical panic buttons. In a situation of distress, the rider would have to pick the correct operator's panic button to be able to get help on time.

In addition to causing confusion, we found that not only are physical buttons prone to wear and tear, but also mechanical malfunctions. There is no way to ensure that they are kept in working condition across all the cars in the city.

Accordingly our solution is to have an easily accessible in-app panic button that one can activate with a single tap. Forward looking regulatory authorities in India are already embracing this position and requiring technology platforms to have in-app safety features. Himmat, an SOS app launched by the Delhi Police is a testimony to the potential of app-based safety technology to solve real world problems."

Uber India announced these new features as a "safety net" after a female passenger in New Delhi accused an Uber driver of taking her to a secluded area and raping her. The cab company was subsequently banned temporarily from operating in the city.

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