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Indian cab operators to introduce biometric verification of drivers

India’s government has implemented a new safety initiative that makes it mandatory for all radio fleet taxi operators in the country to provide biometric verification of their drivers, in light of the nation’s rising sex crimes which includes an alleged rape of a female passenger by an Uber taxi driver.

Transport authorities in New Delhi have called on radio fleet taxi companies and web-based operators to submit the database of their drivers whose information need to be checked, as well as an updated safety plan, to be implemented by January 1, 2015, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal which cited an unnamed Delhi police official.

A list of 20,000 drivers has already been submitted, with more than half of them requiring verification of their background details, said the police official.

Police in Mumbai will verify the backgrounds of all 44,500 taxi drivers, including those driving black-and-yellow vehicles.

Regulated taxi operator Meru Cabs has already launched an app on Android phone that is integrated to a fingerprint scanner or an iris scanner.

The app, which is connected to the Aadhaar database, collects biometric data from iris scans and thumbprints for its massive central database of unique IDs, Meru Cabs CTO Nilesh Sangoi wrote in the company’s blog.

Meru Cabs has already started capturing and verifying the Aadhaar number of all its drivers and is also helping those drivers without an Aadhaar number to register themselves on the national database.

The cab company is also requesting the transport department to develop a central database of all drivers to ensure that there is a system of checks and balances linked with Aadhaar.

If approved by the transport department, Meru will launch the safety feature in its cabs the first week of January.

Other cab operators like Easy Cabs and Bookmycab are also implementing their own safety measures.

Easy Cabs has introduced a new feature that uses geo-fencing feature that would alert the operator’s call center in the event that the vehicle deviates from the route requested at the time of booking.

Bookmycab will soon make it mandatory for drivers to have an Aadhaar number. Drivers will have their fingerprints cross-checked with the UID system and if the data does not match, they will not be allowed to be enrolled in the operator’s system.

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