Uber added an "SOS" button to its app in India following the alleged rape of a passenger last year, and today Uber has announced plans to start improving that button in a significant way. Starting in the city Kolkata and potentially rolling out elsewhere, activating the SOS button will now send live GPS updates to local police, provide police with information on the driver, and send details on the passenger reporting the issue, in addition to initiating a phone call with the police as it initially did. That information, which should enable police to track an Uber vehicle, will appear on a display that Uber installs for the local police.
Uber says that it's been testing the service in Kolkata and is now in "advanced discussions" with "multiple cities" in India to roll it out in other areas. That'll be the big hurdle here, as the feature isn't going to be very meaningful if most people can't use it. It's certainly a step in the right direction, though. Uber has frequently received criticism about rider safety, and while these features are only in India for now, it's a signal that Uber is starting to take the problem more seriously. Last year, it also began working to improve its screenings of drivers in India.