Uber Australia adds emergency call feature to its app following sexual assault allegations
CONTROVERSY-plagued ride-sharing app Uber will introduce a shortcut to phoning triple-0 from its app from today, after a series of sexual assault allegations in Australia.
The new feature, introduced in the United States and Canada earlier this year, followed two alleged sexual assaults on female Uber passengers in Sydney in recent weeks, and two further assault allegations against a driver posing as an Uber employee in Brisbane this month.
The Safety Toolkit will also be rolled out just one year after the arrival of new Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi, charged with cleaning up a multibillion-dollar company tainted by sexual harassment allegations, executive departures, and a questionable approach to international transport regulators.
Uber Australia and New Zealand general manager Susan Anderson said Mr Khosrowshahi had been “very clear that safety (was) our number one priority,” and the new emergency assistance shortcut would use technology from passengers’ smartphones to help police or paramedics identify their location.
“It’s a feature that shows your real-time location on a map but also as a GPS address so you can share it directly with law enforcement,” she said.
“We know that law enforcement is finding this particularly useful when investigating if there are incidents because they can find out where a rider’s phone was, where a driver’s phone was, and that can give real, concrete technical timestamps that help them build a case.”
When triggered, the safety feature displays an estimated street address that victims can pass on to emergency services.
The new safety additions will also let riders share their location with up to five nominated friends, and will appear in Australians’ Uber apps “over the coming weeks”.
Ms Anderson also revealed the tech giant had hired former New South Wales police detective Justin Gallagher as its first law enforcement liaison lead in Australia to work with police “not just on trip issues” but in other cases.