Deccan Herald: Keeping a close watch

At a time where serious questions are being posed about the safety of women, especially while commuting to and from work, many organisations are giving utmost attention to the safety of their female employees. While providing women employees with office cabs is a given these days, many companies are turning to tech-based options to assure a safe ride.

“Safety of all our colleagues is of maximum importance at ‘Tesco Bengaluru’. We have invested in automating our transport system and transparency of operations and 24/7 vehicle tracking at our transport operations centre are some of the highlights of this,” says Sanjeev Nagwekar, Director, Property Services, Tesco Bengaluru.

They also have a security app that can be downloaded by the employees which has features like a ‘panic button’, that sends an alert signal to the command centre, and ‘smart swipe’, that registers the employee’s presence in the vehicle.

“Our routes are planned in a manner that women colleagues are not picked up first or dropped off last during night shifts. All vehicles are equipped with GPS and HID (Human Interface Device) readers. Colleagues can send an SMS or share a photo or video recording of an incident if they are not comfortable speaking on the phone,” adds Sandeep.

Moriam Nesa, a senior coordinator at Delux Digicaption, has a shift from 3 pm to 11 pm . She says, “Though mine is the last drop, I always have a male colleague who
escorts me and waits till I reach my house. I strongly believe we, as individuals,
play a big role by being vigilant ourselves. Being aware of one’s surrounding is always the foremost option. Till now I haven’t faced any unforeseen situation and neither have my other female colleagues.”

Verification of both drivers and security guards is an important process that most companies follow. In addition to that, PayPal ensures assistance and support to expecting women especially when they are travelling.

The company permits mothers-to-be in their last trimester to book a cab for pick-up and drop at any time. Jayanthi Vaidyanathan, Director, Human Resources, PayPal says, “All employees are provided doorstep drop after 9.30 pm. In the case of females, there is a security escort along with the cab driver who is instructed to wait till she enters her residence. Drop confirmations are then captured by the transport desk with the employee as well with the guard.”

Continuous tracking of office cabs and buses through GPS tracking system happens to be one of the first facilities that employees get while travelling to and from work.
“The GPS facility gives employees an update on the arrival time of the pickup and helps them avoid a long wait at the pickup point,” she adds.

Christian Barrios, head of Cisco India, says that there is a remote tracking of route
deviation and over speeding of vehicles, adding “Every check-in and de-boarding is checked with the help of Radio Frequency Identification via gender geocoding. Panic alarm button, remote immobilisation of the vehicle during untoward incidents like a vehicle hijack, are the other tech-oriented systems used by our company to
ensure the safety of our female employees.”

“Any communication between the driver and the employee is done by using
Interactive Voice Response (IVR), which is very effective. We do a thorough background check of the drivers and the vehicle to ensure
safety,” says Christian.

In an era where violence against women is becoming commonplace, such steps by organisations are a welcome initiative to safeguard the interests of the other half of the working population.