On February 11, Uber's app in India will get an update that will add two big new features: an in-app panic button and journey/location sharing in real-time with up to 5 friends and family members. The company announced these features in a blog post on its website after a report that the Mumbai transportation department was considering banning its service in the city. for not meeting its January 15 deadline for implementing safety measures in its cabs.
The in-app panic (SOS) button will allow riders to instantly alert the local police at the push of a button within the app in case of an emergency.
Uber's post also says that the company has established a local Incident Response Team to handle emergency situations. This team will oversee and respond to incidents reported by riders, and will also be alerted when the in-app panic button is pressed.
Uber is, however, reluntant to install a physical panic button in its cars. It writes:
“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.That’s 25 percent chance of success; and a decision that has to be made and executed in a split-second, if at all."
Uber returned to New Delhi last month, about six weeks after it was banned following the rape of a passenger in New Delhi by an Uber driver.