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"Before it was more difficult to get a job at Uber than at the bank" The truth about the current filters to drive an Uber or Didi

Safety in digital platform vehicles has been an issue that has concerned both drivers and users. From the security filters that are required to use the service by both parties, to the tools offered by the applications to make trips more reliable, these are points on which the technology companies work to differentiate themselves from the taxi service.

It is not for less, considering that, according to the National Survey of Victimization and Perception of Public Security ( ENVIPE 2021), which measures the Inegi, 3,243 total or partial thefts of vehicles were reported, 5,160 complaints of extortion, 2,997 sexual crimes and 142 rapes.

Although it is true that the vehicles of applications cannot completely eradicate and control the violence that can be experienced within their platforms, they can have tools to reduce the chances of suffering risks. These are some that have been implemented for both drivers and users:

What filters do Uber and Didi drivers pass?

“Before, it was more difficult to get a job at Uber than at the bank, because there were many filters that we had to go through,” says José B., an Uber driver since 2015. He narrates that when he applied to enter the platform he had to go through five filters ; an exam on the knowledge of the city, a psychological exam, a face-to-face interview with a human resources staff, taking your non-criminal record and an anti-doping test.

In an interview with Cecilia Román, leader of security communication at Uber, she mentions that mobility services are regulated at the local level, so the filters vary depending on each state, but that three are applied throughout the country: document validation , from the official identification to the documents that correspond to the vehicle; a psychometric test that is applied digitally, and the company is in charge of doing the criminal record check, since in some states it is difficult to obtain it.

Román mentioned that only 12% of applicants pass the three security filters.

According to Didi information shared for Expansión, they do not have a psychometric test and to be a driving partner they only request an official ID, driver’s license, circulation card, car insurance policy, Federal Taxpayer Registry (RFC) and letter no criminal record (CNAP). Additionally, all drivers go through background and identity verification systems to ensure that the person driving matches the one indicated in the app.

Carlos Castañeda, an expert in cybersecurity mentions: “Legally, the constitutions that these companies have leave the worker and human factor very adrift. And anyone who meets the minimum requirements can become an operator.”

The user filter

“There is a lot of robbery… I lost a car there in Ecatepec. My car was stolen but it was a user. I took a seven-minute trip and the same user stole from me”, says José A., driver on both platforms. One of the main complaints from drivers is that there is not the same security filter for users as for drivers.

For a user to open an account on both platforms, only a valid email or phone number and a bank account or official ID are required. Photography is not mandatory as in the case of drivers. “We cannot see the user’s photo. They can make an Oxxo saldazo account, assault us and then delete it and nothing happens, “says Julio Torres, Didi’s driver.

Cecilia Román mentions that all users who want to enter Uber go through an identity verification system, which is done through the validation of the electronic payment associated with a banking system and, if it is not entered, the app requests scan an official ID. In addition, they have other processes such as the request for selfies or other types of locks, such as the code by SMS.

He explains that there are processes in which certain users are notified that they need to update their name in the app. If they don’t, they lose access to the account.

In the case of Didi, they mention that “in the last year we increased identity verifications by 400%, achieving that we have more than 10 available functions that help validate passenger accounts.”

These include the name that, at the time of registration, goes through a database that verifies that it is not one of those identified as false; selfies that go through facial recognition systems; and validation of the profile through official documentation when registering.

They have artificial intelligence systems that verify, for example, the passenger’s historical data and identify, through facial recognition systems, if a passenger has been suspended for breaching the Terms and Conditions in the app, especially on security issues. If so, you are prevented from requesting a trip through the platform

However, neither platform has verification filters so that users, in effect, prove that they are wearing a face mask before boarding the vehicle. A selfie is only requested to be able to board the next trip if the driver previously raised a complaint about the user.

Drivers resort to other measures

Sandra is a mother of four children, a platform driver and a block leader in the northern part of the city. This means that he is in charge of a group of 10 to 12 vehicles to constantly monitor them. She said that after the insecurity crisis in the country, Uber drivers, Didi and regular taxi drivers join groups of blocks to monitor and take care of any attack or accident.

Although both platforms have security tools, such as an emergency assistance button and the possibility of sharing the trip with family members, Didi details that only 2% of driver partners use it. This is because the drivers consider that they are not sufficient or adequate tools for the country’s context, since in the event of an accident, the bureaucratization of the processes prevents the help from being agile.

For this reason, numerous drivers begin to pay a fee to the groups to be monitored during their trips. Sandra mentions: “the monitoring service is paid per unit, if we are many units the service is cheap. In the case of my group, which is only 10 people, we pay 150 pesos per week”.

This implies that, through the Zello application, which works as a radio, two people other than the technological ones are constantly monitoring the driving partners. In the event of any incident, an alarm is issued and the drivers of the block are the ones who assist the driver immediately, without having to wait for the help of the application or the local authorities.

Safety tools for Uber and Didi drivers

In addition to the aforementioned tools, these are some offered by platforms that seek to improve driver safety:

  1. RideCheck: Using GPS technology, ride anomalies are detected to provide support options and access to safety tools. It detects three scenarios: long and unexpected stoppage, trips ending earlier than expected, or route deviations. This is only available in the case of Uber.
  2. Trip verification through a PIN code: By activating this function, users will receive a randomly generated four-digit code that they must provide in person to the driver. The trip in the application can only be started when the driver enters the correct PIN.
  3. 24/7 support: this is a specialized team to deal with reports, from a forgotten object or a road mishap to a more serious case. Each report is treated by a specialized team that, depending on the seriousness of the report, is in charge of conducting an exhaustive investigation and taking appropriate measures.
  4. Audio recording during the trip: this is the possibility to record what happens during the trip in case the drivers want to report it through the support center. According to Didi, since 2021 they have increased voluntary audio recording during the trip by more than 30%.

According to drivers from both platforms, one of Didi’s most effective tools that Uber does not have is that the app sends a warning to let them know that they are about to enter or take a trip in a risk zone, or that a certain place has been classified as risky. The zones are divided into two:

  • Restricted: A permanent blockade of places that have been determined as critical risk is carried out to prevent trips from ending or starting at any of these points.
  • Risk: The system alerts drivers if they are going into, or encounter, a risk area, so they can refuse the trip.

Cecilia Román says that another tool that Uber has is the “Ellas” function, available in Mexico since November 2020. This allows female driving partners in the country to choose if they want to receive trips only from female users. “It is a function that they can activate and deactivate directly from the driver application, at any time of the day, for as long and as many times as they want.”

The new safety tool in Uber

Uber issued a statement regarding a new tool for drivers, which allows users to be filtered according to their rating.

The “minimum user rating” function will allow trip requests to be filtered based on a certain minimum rating given to the user by the driving partners. This parameter can be modified at any time by the driver himself, without impacting the travel experience for the user.

“It is important to remember that in each trip through the Uber app, users and driving partners can rate each other with the aim of improving everyone’s experience. The rating of each user is the average of the last 500 trips made, so we always have the opportunity to improve that rating.” says Cecilia Román, Safety Communication Manager at Uber.

The rating given to users is not random. “You are guided by the qualification and you are guided by the profile… Five stars is not safe” Sandra mentions. For her, a user with the highest evaluation means that she is a new user, and “you don’t know what you are going to face. Yes, we are guided a lot by the ratings.”

Jesús A. complements: “If the user has five stars and less than five trips, I do not accept it. Because it is very easy right now to download the app and make my profile, take the trip, attack it and delete the account. That’s why I better get grades 4.80 or 4.90”.

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