For the advancing series, Code Word, we’re exploring if — and how — technology can assure individuals adjoin sexual advance and harassment, and how it can help and abutment survivors.

Over the past year, ride-hailing apps including Uber and Lyft have faced added analysis over worker and rider safety. In October, a House board clearly called on these companies to advance their safety measures over apropos apropos absolute accomplishments check procedures on drivers, and the way sexual advance and aggravation letters were handled.

Back in August, Lyft was hit with seven sexual advance lawsuits from women who allegedly were raped or assaulted by their drivers. The filled cases stated Lyft had “failed to apparatus the most accessible and aboveboard safety procedures in order to abode the growing botheration of sexual assault” perpetrated by Lyft drivers. The women were also still answerable for the rides during which they were allegedly assaulted.

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In December, Uber appear its full safety accuracy report, including stats around sexual advance and aggravation in the US — article the aggregation left out of its report in its antecedent absolution last year. From 2017 to 2018, Uber said 2,936 cartage appear incidents of sexual assault, but the stats are likely to be higher given that a vast majority of sexual abuse goes unreported

While Uber has an array of its own congenital safety features, including 911 texts, rider PIN numbers, and on-trip reporting, apropos still linger around the onboarding on drivers. A Washington Post report abundant how the company’s own safety admiral prioritized accountability over rider safety. 

In acknowledgment to growing apropos over ride-sharing, a team of industry experts in healthcare, aggressive service, and public safety and policy built UrSafe, a hands-free claimed safety app. The app appearance accommodate a voice-activated SOS, congenital accomplishments screening, real-time location-sharing, and geo-located 911 acknowledgment that functions in over 240 countries.

“The claimed safety space has abundantly been left clear by innovators admitting the fact that our internet-driven lifestyles crave us to collaborate with and meet strangers more than ever,” Anthony Oyogoa, CEO and Co-Founder of UrSafe, said in a press release. “We created UrSafe to adapt to individuals’ modern safety and aegis needs behindhand of who they are, what they do, or where they live to empower anybody to live a life after fear.”

As the Washington Post report outlined, board at Uber were not acceptable to amplify bent letters to the police, no matter how anathema the evidence, nor were they they accustomed to advise victims to go to the police or attorneys themselves. Not only is this adverse to rider safety, but it also slows down the legal process, at a time when the law is disturbing to keep up with the advances of technology.

“Besides alteration the ability of claimed safety and putting power back in people’s hands, we also accept this affection will be a source of advice for law administration around the world in emergency situations,” said Ruma Patel, Co-Founder of UrSafe. “Rather than having to rely on third parties to acknowledge time-sensitive material, it will be readily accessible for users and their family and accompany to accommodate if they choose.”

Unlike other geo-location apps, UrSafe’s ‘Follow Me’ affection allows users to choose when their contacts can follow them, in accession to how frequently they accept updates on their journey. If a user feels unsafe or has an emergency, they can activate the apps SOS system with their safeword. It will either admit live stream audio and video for their called acquaintance to adviser their bearings or alert emergency authorities.

The app is accessible to download on both Android and iOS devices. Once downloaded, users will need to affirm their phone number, enter a aegis pin, create a safeword, and select emergency contact(s). While the app is more common among women using ride-sharing apps, it was created to keep people safe in all walks of life, and situations such as online-dating, traveling, during acute weather, and for accouchement while they’re at school. 

While safety apps and tools like UrSafe can give users peace of mind while traveling, having accompany track abode or enabling audio-recording of car trips can only help after the worst has already happened, abnormally if the driver is one Uber’s lax accomplishments check policy has turned a blind eye to.