Coming soon: SOS button and location tracking in Mumbai's fleet taxis

Soon, you can expect to have SOS/panic buttons inside fleet taxis and private cabs. Radio cab operators are working towards including such a facility in their vehicles, along with a GPS system to track their movement.

Radio taxi operators are working on introducing the SOS button in their mobile apps, as well as physically in their vehicles. File pic
Radio taxi operators are working on introducing the SOS button in their mobile apps, as well as physically in their vehicles. File pic

According to sources in the Transport department, this emergency button will flash the location of the vehicle, on the control room screen. Sources in the transport department said that in the initial stage, each fleet operator will have a screen on which they can keep a tab on the location of their own vehicles in the city, thanks to the GPS device installed in the car.

In the long run, the possibility of having a single screen to bring all 5,000-odd fleet taxis under one roof is being considered. “Ideally, there should be a single control room with a screen showing the location of the cab when the SOS button is pressed. However, the details need to be worked out,” said a state Transport department official.

Safer ride?
Sources said norms are being created for safety wherein each such fleet vehicle, gradually, will have a GPS device. Initially, the mobile app of the respective operator will have this SOS button. Installation of the hardware device will carry on simultaneously.

As per plans, every operator should have a screen to identify the location of the vehicle when a passenger presses a button, either in the vehicle or through the app. “We will be installing these ‘panic buttons’ inside the black-and-yellow cabs registered with us.

The SOS button has been installed in our mobile app and, when pressed, a message will be sent to the passenger’s registered emergency number, and the location of the cab will be highlighted in the call centre. A call will also be automatically made to the police,” said Avinash Gupta, CEO, Bookmycab, an authorised cab aggregation service that has the black-and-yellow taxis on call.

In case the mobile Internet is not working, an SMS will be sent to the respective helpline numbers along with the latitude and longitude of the car. Transport sources said that there is a need to ensure that this button is tamper-proof, else it wouldn’t fulfil its purpose.

Hence, the mobile app will come in handy. “We are working on suggestions given by the state transport authority for having a permanent alarm system in vehicles. Trials for this would be conducted by January 15,” said Siddhartha Pahwa, CEO, Meru Cabs. After studying feasibility of the norms, the state transport authority will decide on features to be implemented by January 15.

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