New app ensures a safe drive home

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New app ensures a safe drive home

In a bid to enhance safety, the Seoul city government has launched a new service that allows taxi passengers to send information through their smartphones about the cab they are taking.

The service, scheduled to go into effect today on a trial basis, uses near field communication (NFC) technology, which allows smartphones and similar products to establish contact with each other, simply by being in close proximity.

All passengers need to do is download the NFC Safe Return Home application. Users can swap data stored on an NFC tag with a previously designated person by waving their phone over the tag installed on the back of front passenger seats.

The data includes vehicle numbers, the name of the taxi company and the address of the passenger’s destination. Passengers are not required to open the app each time; the service runs automatically when a smartphone comes near the tag.

However, right now the scope of the project is limited: It only runs on Android smartphones and does not offer a foreign-language service. Currently, there is no plan to launch a version in another language.

Seoul is set to test drive the service today on 17,000 taxis. After a three-month trial and a public safety survey, it will decide whether to expand the service to remaining cabs.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government said that the app-based program can help ensure the safety of its citizens, particularly young women.

“We believe this service can relieve the anxiety and frustration many women might feel when taking taxis late at night,” said Kim Kyung-ho, head of the urban transportation division of the city office.

Seoul offers a similar service through its website, but the registration process is more involved and asks for more detailed personal information.


BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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