And it’s all in a bid to increase safety during their rides.
In the months leading up to Uber’s long-awaited safety report, the app rolled out a slew of safety tools to give riders an added sense of security.
In September, Uber added RideCheck, a system designed to flag unusual events. Later that month, the app started testing a feature that would let passengers record their driver’s voice if things were getting out of hand.
As Uber grapples with the 5,981 reports of sexual assault and figures out which features can prevent those types of occurrences, a startup is rolling out a mobile app that uses a multi-pronged approach to personal safety, so you can report an event whether your phone is in your pocket or across the room.
Tuesday, UrSafe launches on iOS and Android. It was created by two medical professionals and an Air Force veteran to protect users in almost any assault situation. The app instantly video records the scenario, sends the user’s name and location to law enforcement agencies and stores a streamed video of the incident on a designated receiver’s smartphone.
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“The personal safety space has largely been left untouched by innovators despite the fact that our internet-driven lifestyles require us to interact with and meet strangers more than ever,” said Anthony Oyogoa, CEO and co-founder of UrSafe. The app was meant to adapt to modern safety and security needs, he said.
During emergencies, users can access the app hands-free by calling out a predesignated safeword or by holding down an SOS button on the app. The hands-free trigger is programmed to the owner’s voice, so no one else can access it.
“We really believe this technology is going to help de-escalate a lot of situations and hopefully prevent situations when bad actors realize they are sitting next to a person who has a safe app,” Oyogoa said.
UrSafe partnered with more than 240 countries and territories, so travelers have added security also. If there is an emergency, 911 calls will be sent to the nearest dispatch center rather than first bouncing the signal to wherever the caller’s area code is.
One of the app’s developers is a military sexual assault survivor who wishes to remain anonymous. A medical professional, Ruma Patel, is another co-founder. UrSafe also received input from Navy veteran Heath Phillips, a longtime advocate fighting sexual assault in the military.
Phillips said he believes the app could’ve helped when he was attacked multiple times while serving in the Navy years ago.
“What I really love about the app is that it connects to people that are also on the app who are part of your connections,” Phillips said. “Even if they can’t see the video, they’re still hearing it. With my case, there was a lot of he said, she said. There was no proof. With this app, there’s actual proof. And even if your phone is destroyed, it’s on other people’s phones.”
Philips said he hopes ride-share companies, dating apps and institutions such as the military will embrace the app.
Follow Dalvin Brown on Twitter @Dalvin_Brown.
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