Since Uber’s launch in 2010, the ride-hailing service has become one of the most important modes of transportation in many cities,media techcrunch reported. But while the index has grown exponentially, companies such as Uber and Lyft have had to endure criticism and scandals. One of these crises is the sexual assault of passengers or other criminal acts committed by drivers. But techcrunch’s research provides a startling finding: calling a car actually reduces the risk of sexual assault.
In The Deterrent Effect of Ride-Share on Sexual Assault and Investigation of Situational Contingencies, the media analyzed data from New York City in 2015, including Uber’s transactions and crime reports. As a result, they found that the more Times Uber called in a community, the less likely the area was to report rape. Their findings suggest that every 1 percent increase in Uber calls in New York City results in as many as 48 fewer reports of sexual assault.
Techcrunch’s in-depth analysis reveals more interesting insights. The media found that in areas and situations where traffic supplies rarely meet demand, call-up services can help to reduce rape cases to a greater extent, for example:
In areas with fewer taxis;
On the outskirts of New York (Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx) – not in Manhattan;
In areas with a high proportion of non-white residents;
Areas where drinks are available from Friday to Saturday evenings than on weekday evenings;
When a large number of other crimes occur in the same area.
So why on earth is this happening? How can call services reduce, not increase, reports of sexual assault? Simply put, it helps potentially vulnerable victims move to safety as quickly as possible.
Waiting for a taxi on the street late at night, walking eight blocks to a subway station or even taking the subway home alone may be unwelcome options, but the call service offers travelers an option to get out of this situation. According to Techcrunch, waiting for Uber is much shorter than waiting for a taxi, and uber is more widely used in the suburbs. In New York City’s outer city, about 23 percent of travel was provided by Uber in 2015, nearly twice as much as in Manhattan (12 percent), while in the farthest parts of Manhattan, such as Bensonhurst, Queens Village and Cumbria Heights in Queens, it grew 91 percent.
This is thanks to a real-time match between supply (driver) and demand (passenger) on Uber’s mobile platform. Its platform knows exactly where the passenger and driver are and immediately matches the passenger to the nearest driver to guide the driver to the exact location of the passenger. Dynamic pricing also allows drivers to react immediately to market demand, which helps to closely match supply and demand.
The platform’s real-time matching and dynamic pricing also explain why ride-called services are more effective at deterring crime outside Manhattan. As mentioned earlier, it is difficult for passengers to find taxis on the street, as are taxi drivers. Taxi drivers usually drive or wait at popular pick-up locations such as airports, train stations, hotels, but this is not economical in the suburbs. Because it is difficult to find passengers, most aircraft tend to fly in densely populated areas. Car sharing fills this traffic gap, making it easier for potential crime victims to bring themselves home.
So what does such a finding mean for policymakers? Techcrunch’s research shows that public safety and transportation are interrelated, and providing citizens with reliable and convenient transportation infrastructure can be one of the mechanisms to curb crime.
To fill this gap, some local governments have started operating on-demand transport services. Under this service, passengers can request a ride anywhere, rather than running on a fixed route on a scheduled schedule. Many universities also offer safe driving programs for students. Such flexible transport systems are more cost-effective for municipalities and have a role to play in curbing crime.
Companies designed to provide reliable transportation services to customers and employees can benefit from IT-supporting transportation platforms where new technology start-ups can play a role. For example, medical institutions work with mainstream call companies to provide reliable transportation for their patients, such as Uber Health and Lyft Health, so they can easily reach health care providers.