Uber To Boost Driver Screening; Are Others Hearing?
Online taxi service Uber said that it is exploring new techniques to enhance driver screening. The taxi company, whose driver was accused of rape in New Delhi, faced innumerable criticisms and bans in France, Spain, Thailand, etc., and in addition, its passenger safety was under close scrutiny.
Uber, which is adding new methods to verify drivers’ credentials and make its service safer, is now carrying out its research and development on biometrics and voice verification to build tools for enhanced driver screening, Phillip Cardenas, the company’s global safety, head said in a blog. In the US, Uber’s background-verification process includes checks of court records going back seven years; a multi-state criminal database; and the National Sex Offender Registry, said Cardena.
According to Uber policy posted on its website, activities that disqualify potential drivers include sexual offenses, violent crimes and gun-related infractions. However, that is not the case internationally, where records are not always kept for the same plane of data, he added. According to Cardenas, “In many places outside the US, the infrastructure and complexity of background checks vary significantly. This is of deep concern to us. We are finding solutions in many places that range from polygraph exams that fill gaps in available data to adding our own processes on top of existing screening for commercial licenses – which is what we are undertaking in India. We are exploring new ways to screen drivers globally, using scientific analysis and technology to find solutions.”
“We are investing in ways to provide riders the instant ability to communicate with us and their loved ones in the event of an emergency,” he informed.
The company is also appointing former Amazon executive Tim Collins to lead global support. “We are also building Safety Incident Response teams around the world with the goal of providing 24/7, immediate support in the event of a safety incident,” Cardenas said.
Uber said it is working with partners that have deep expertise in issues like women’s safety, conflict resolution, and road safety and incorporate their counsel into our global safety roadmap.
The gruesome security incident, should also be a wakeup call for other taxi providers globally. Park Byung Joon, head of the urban transport management program at Singapore’s SIM University, told Reuters that taxi booking firms globally need to improve processes to ensure the drivers they screen are the individuals driving their cars.
In a recent interview, Olacabs, is also reportedly working on creating an additional layer of GPS tracking in all cabs on the platform. Meru Cabs, another radio cab company has also installed GPS in their cars to track the location and to ensure that drivers aren’t speeding.
Experts believe companies in the transport industry should not see themselves as mere service providers, but as players in the information business, who should use technology effectively to connect with their drivers and customers.
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