Uber is taking a page out of the federal government’s disaster response handbook.
The ride-hailing company is centralizing how it responds to disasters, whether it’s flooding in North Carolina, a mass shooting in Las Vegas or an earthquake in Mexico City. Now, instead of taking a local-first (and sometimes reactionary) approach, the company’s global security center will monitor and coordinate responses 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The company, which announced the change in a blog post this week, has become part of the urban landscape. People use the Uber app to commute to work, attend concerts and other events, rent bikes (and eventually scooters) and even have food delivered. People have become increasingly reliant on the service, a responsibility that requires more than an app that connects drivers and riders.
The GSC, as Uber calls it, monitors and flags issues that may affect its business and the communities in which it operates. From here, the GSC staff, which includes former military and security experts who speak a dozen different languages, coordinate with local Uber staff and city, county or state officials. The GSC is the entity that will make decisions on when to suspend service in an area or whether to cap surge pricing.
The GSC might also lend support to local authorities, depending on their needs.
This procedural change is another illustration of CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s efforts to rehabilitate the company and its reputation. It also telegraphs the company’s push to work more closely with cities.
In April, Khosrowshahi announced a series of new products to its app, including a deal with instant car-booking service Getaround to launch a product called UberRENT and a partnership with Masabi that lets users pay and book tickets for public transit in the Uber app. Uber also launched Movement in 2017, a tool that provides cities with traffic data.
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