How can mobile technology ensure the safety of commuters in the Philippines?

Problem

In the Philippines, it’s a common habit for people who ride taxis or other public transportation to send an SMS to a family member containing the plate number of the vehicle before boarding. Many dangers face commuters every day when riding public vehicles — difficulty hailing buses and taxis, accidents, holdups, and pick-pockets. Informing loved ones before each journey is a small step to ensure a passenger’s safety.

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Solution

In 2012, we started to design PasaHero, a free passenger safety mobile app that Filipino commuters can use to record, plot, and broadcast details of their trip and notify family and friends of any danger encountered on the road, providing citizens with peace of mind when commuting.

The app’s “My Trip” feature employs GPS to track a trip from start to end, record the device’s current location, and track the duration and distance of the trip. Alerts and updates on a user’s trip can also be shared through SMS and social media.

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Users can choose to “Begin” a trip that will require them to key in relevant information about the trip, including the mode of transportation, the vehicle’s plate number and color, and a photo of the vehicle. These details will then be posted on the users’ Twitter or Facebook accounts.

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The app also has a “Panic” button that users can use when they encounter any danger or feel threatened. If activated, the button sends details of the user’s exact location to a customized list of emergency contacts. The “Panic” button can also be used to record audio and video files when the passenger feels threatened.

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After its first day of availability, “PasaHero” was already the number one Utility App on Apple’s App Store and placed number six on the overall app charts in the Philippines.

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Lean UX — Learning as we go.

We’ve received a ton of feedback after user testing for a month with over 2,000 users. The first recommendation that users wanted was to add a “complaint” feature where users can report taxi drivers who refuse to take in passengers to the Land Transporation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), or report incidents of theft, holdups, and accidents to the police.

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We also added a cloud-based rating system that allows users to review and rate the taxi that they are riding using the taxi’s plate number.

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A lot of the users also requested for more in-depth trip details input that would allow them to further customize their trips and add specific passengers and drivers (i.e. carpool) and a trip history page where users can store and view their trip history at a later time.

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Finally, the most important change, a lot of people were complaining about the panic button — most users accidentally press them and send out false SOSs. We changed the button to a swipe instead to prevent these accidental / pocket presses.

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Awards and Recognition

2015 Silver Tambuli Awards, for Advocacy

2015 Spikes Asia Awards finalist, Mobile.

2014 Spark Awards, Mobile Excellence

2014 WMA Mobile Web Awards.

2014 Gold Boomarang Award for Digital Media

The app can be found on the Google Play store and the Apple App store.

Written by

Minimalist

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