Two recent attacks against passengers of unlicensed “gypsy cabs” highlight the dangers as alternative transportation options become increasingly popular, but is it any riskier than using traditional cabs, and can technology make us safer?
One paragraph stood out to me in particular in Matt Rocheleau and Jaclyn Reiss’s recent piece detailing the investigation into the attacks:
Officials said the vehicle had a software application running on a tablet or smartphone that was mounted to the dashboard and displayed a map and fare tally. But they said the vehicle was not a registered taxi and did not have a Boston taxi medallion, which includes a requirement for background checks to screen drivers with criminal records.
Just like scammers have created fake bank websites to trick us, we now have real life phishing attacksat ATMs, stores, and now cabs, in the latter case with tragic results.
The downside of getting passengers used to a sharing, on-demand economy is that it becomes easier for certain kinds of abuse and trickery. But a digitally-savvy ecosystem also comes with new defenses.
Uber, which has built a brand on premium sedan services hailed through its smartphone app, highlighted the safety measures it takes, tackling “how riders and technology alike can help ensure safe transportation in the Greater Boston Area.”
Some of the features Uber highlighted were disguised phone numbers (Lyft suffered a PR black eye after a driver harassed a passenger via text message), GPS tracking of rides, and accessible driver reviews.