Meru Cab launches booking app with emergency distress button

The Indian cab company has extended its ICE (in case of emergency) Alert service from SMS to now a mobile app. Now, family and friends can track users as they commute, ensuring they reach their destinations safe and sound.
Written by Nitin Puri, Contributor

Meru Cabs's mobile booking app is available for both Google Android and Apple iPhone devices, and can easily be downloaded from their Web site. The radio taxi service is currently available in five Indian cities: Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, and Jaipur.

If anything, it was about time a company such as Meru Cab designed, developed, and deployed an app to book their cabs. Sure, they have their existing systems, such as online booking and their call center, but this new facility will appeal to those on the go and want instant results.

Meru Cabs's ICE alert feature.

The mobile app also has a first of its kind service called ICE (in case of emergency) Alert, which can be used in the case of an emergency, according to TechGig.  It is an extension of its SMS tracking service launched in May, a great feature to have as security still remains an issue, especially at night and for women.

Nilesh Sangoi, CTO Meru Cabs, said in a statement: "The application efficiently enables people to make an effective booking, track the progress of their cabs via live mapping and incorporates ICE Alert which is one of the 'firsts' to be introduced by Meru."

The ICE Alert emergency option can be used for customers not only in a Meru Cab, but at any given time in any given situation. Meru Cabs has included this as a value added service, thus allowing users to ability to contact family and friends in case of an emergency.

There are other similar apps available in India, but are solely meant for safety purposes. The ICE Alert works by allowing the user to enter at least two numbers, be it family or friends, and these contacts can view the user’s exact location for 30 minutes. This feature can be used at any given point, not necessarily just in a Meru Cab. This feature will definitely give women and parents ease of mind knowing they can follow their loved ones in real-time, ensuring they reach their destinations safe and sound.  

One feature that I would like to have seen implemented by now is an emergency response feature that would instantly connect users with local police, fire, or EMS. Unfortunately, these systems don't exist in India, and the general public still has to dial 100 from either a mobile or landline to connect to emergency services. I've called 100 a few times, and to be frank, the quality of service and especially response time needs to be improved. It's not a good feeling when you have Delhi Police approaching you for directions on the street.

As a previous Meru Cab user, here's my experience: it's been great when there's been a cab available or my call to their call center didn't get dropped. In many cases, when you call their call center, even after you've given all your information, you only find out at the end that there isn't a cab available in your area. This has happened to me on more than one occasion. On the instances where a cab was available, the driver either didn't know where to pick me up, or, and for India this is quite impressive, the driver arrived much earlier than the pickup time. At least with Meru Cab, if they arrive earlier, they don't charge wait times, which is great.

I wonder though which is faster and more convenient, of the three options now available: online, mobile app, and calling in. What I would like to see is instant information available, when booking online or with the mobile app, that a cab is not available in the area. This would save time and at least I could contact one of the other local cab companies instead. Of course, as a last resort, I could just flag down a traditional black and yellow cab and as usual, haggle for the rate. At least now some of them have air-conditioning.

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