Thanks to the Internet, riding to work with strangers just got a little safer. A partnership between the social ride-sharing marketplace Ridejoy and Jumio, Inc. will allow carpoolers on long-distance trips to verify the identities of the other passengers.
Jumio uses computer vision technology to read information from images taken with a webcam. The ID verification tool can check driver’s licenses in all 50 states and passports in the U.S. and Canada., weeding out the fake IDs to ensure that everyone in the car is who they say they are. For overseas visitors, the software also supports some European, Asian, Australian, and African passports and driver’s licenses.
According to Ridejoy, the screening process for the ride-sharing community was already rigorous. Previously, the company provided its drivers and passengers with:
- relevant work and education history, a photo, and with Facebook integration, a list of mutual friends;
- a user review system, so drivers and passengers can check community feedback from previous rides;
- a user reference system, which allows for friends to vouch for community members;
- a safety checklist sent to all users before their booked rides, with guidelines such as talking with the driver/passenger over the phone and telling friends/family about the travel plans;
- optional background checks
“We understand that there may be people who love the concept of rideshare, but are still on the fence due to safety concerns,” said Kalvin Wang, co-founder of Ridejoy in a statement. “These new enhancements are designed to further strengthen accountability on the site, as well as reduce uncertainty for newcomers.”
What’s amusing about the whole set-up is how willing Internet users have been, up to this point, to meet with strangers they’ve found on the Internet without any safety measures. Many people have met their future roommates on Craigslist or their future significant others on dating sites, exchanging just a few emails before meeting in person. So far, the horror stories have been few and far between.
In the real world, the balance between security and privacy varies. Public transportation riders blindly hop into a train with strangers every day, but they have to show their IDs at the airport.
If an online ID check can make carpooling with strangers less of a risk, maybe someday it’ll be safe to pick up hitchhikers.