More women seek tech-based solutions for safety during commute

More and more women commuters are using apps and wearable gadgets, those that allow tracking by family members, to make themselves less and less vulnerable on poorly lit streets.

20th Mar 2020
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Even seven years after the horrific gang rape and murder of Nirbhaya on an empty moving bus, safety remains a major concern for women who are increasingly seeking technology-based solutions to make their commute safer through dark and deserted areas.


More and more women commuters are using apps and wearable gadgets, those that allow tracking by family members, to make themselves less and less vulnerable on poorly lit streets.


Though the idea of being tracked may make anyone uncomfortable, the sheer benefits of these tech-based tools appear to outweigh any such concerns.


Vikram Kumar, founder and CEO of Gurgaon-based Letstrack a GPS solutions provider, said the company has seen a 50-per cent surge in sale of devices from January 2019 till date i.e. March 2020 and it has sold over two lakh devices to date since 2016. The company's customer base has surged to 5 lakh, Kumar asserted.


"Safety of women is a concern for sure. Every day, we hear about thousands of horrific acts being carried out across the country. This has made travelling, working and essentially every aspect of life very difficult. This is also affecting the livelihood of countless women, especially those who work night shifts," he said.

Also the availability of several apps-based cab services such as Ola and Uber offer comparatively safer travel options to women, including during late night. Apart from being lighter on wallet, they allow women to board a ride closer to the starting point of their journey and get a doorstep drop.



The feature that often prompts women to opt for these platforms over say, a bus, is the live tracking feature. As the ride starts, commuters can share their live location with their loved ones.


An Ola spokesperson said the company takes a holistic approach to safety of passengers and features like 24/7 helpline via phone and social media, a dedicated Safety Response Team and an emergency button to resolve urgent requests have been introduced.


"(These tools) have helped Ola users have a secure experience. We continue to build on this front with innovations as well as rigorous quality exercises, escalation procedures and the use of emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence and deep learning to continuously predict and reduce risk," the spokesperson added.


An Uber spokesperson listed out the initiatives taken by the company to ensure the safety of riders, especially women and highlighted its partnership with Manas Foundation.


"We believe there is still a lot to contribute, specifically in terms of how to confront structural and systemic social phenomena such as gender-based violence. To raise awareness of gender, power dynamics, and sexual harassment among driver-partners, we have partnered with Manas Foundation, to host gender sensitisation workshops for our driver-partners across the country," the spokesperson said.


Till date, over 50,000 driver-partners have been "sensitised" through the programme.


But safety is not an issue only when one ventures out.


On many occasions, women are alone at home and right from post to groceries to apparel get delivered by strangers. How does one ensure safety in such cases?


The US-based Amazon said as a customer-oriented company, its primary focus is to provide a seamless and positive experience to its customers.


"Through our efficient and systematic hiring processes, we conduct thorough background checks for all potential associates. After they are on-boarded, all our associates are provided extensive soft-skills and sensitisation training prior to their engagement with customers," an Amazon India spokesperson said.


These personnel are trained on customer management skills with a focus on formal customer interaction etiquette, grooming, safety and overall ability to deliver a positive customer experience. 


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