An alleged rape in December 2014 of a passenger by a driver engaged through the Uber mobile app created a storm of criticism that the technology company had not done enough to ensure passenger safety. Municipal and state authorities included New Delhi and Mumbai banned Uber from operating in their jurisdictions. Additionally, local authorities have proposed new safety requirements for cab companies. It was reported that Mumbai authorities want Uber to set up a distress help desk and to install a panic button in cabs. In a February 5th post on its Web site, Uber announced that it was adding an "in-app panic (SOS) button" which would alert local police when activated. No further details were provided. However, Uber announced that this feature would be launched on February 11th. In anticipation, NewsPie has the following questions for both Uber and police authorities wherever in India Uber operates.
- Will the panic button be available on the lock screen or will the rider have to unlock the phone and launch the Uber app?
- Will the panic button work at any time or only during the Uber ride?
- When a Uber rider pressed the panic button, how will the notification go to the police? Will it by by SMS, a voice call, or though the Internet?
- Will the panic button work if the Uber rider is in an area without mobile data connectivity?
- Will the panic button work if the rider only has 2G connectivity? What will be the difference in performance?
- Will the panic button work only through the rider's telecom operator or will it work on any available service?
- How will the Uber rider know that the SOS has been received? How will the rider know how long before help will arrive?
- Will the panic button still work if a rider goes outside the city where Uber is providing service? Will the button alert the local police?
- Will there be a way to cancel the panic call, to say "false alarm" or "my child was playing with the phone"?
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