Uber Technologies Inc. said it has completed over 100 million successful face mask verifications globally.

The American tech company, which provides transportation and logistics services in over 63 countries and 700 cities, disclosed this at the second edition of its Tech for Safety Summit.

Uber launched the Tech for Safety Summit last year to serve as a platform to catalyse change and conversation around its daily safety concerns. This year's Tech for Safety Summit convened thought leaders, innovators, and talent across corporate, government and startups from across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) to discuss and create workable safety solutions for all.

The summit was held virtually, and had in-person element, which adhered to all COVID-19 protocols.

Akankshu Dhawan, Head of Product Management at Uber, said over 20 enhanced safety features have been added to the Uber app. And over 100 million successful face mask verifications have been completed during the pandemic globally.

"We’ve  set out to create a platform that encourages engagement and feedback, to  expand on our conversation around how technology and infrastructure may collaborate to create safer communities across Africa", Frans Hiemstra, General Manager of Uber - SSA, said.

"A continent on the nexus of its greatest technology evolution deserves a platform worthy of its potential. Uber’s Tech for Safety Summit provides just this; to empower, enrich and further commit to the locals of Africa".

Frans Hiemstra, General Manager of Uber - sub-Saharan Africa
Frans Hiemstra, General Manager of Uber - sub-Saharan Africa

Redi Tlhabi, a popular South African journalist and author, anchored the Tech for Safety Summit. The summit featured presentation, keynote address, pitch den, and three panel sessions. The panel sessions explored tech for transport safety, tech for safety in the new normal, tech for community safety, and tech for startup safety.

The panellists that were present at the Tech for Safety Summit include:

  • Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of Johannesburg
  • Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, General Partner at Future Africa
  • Gretchen Wilson-Prangley, founder and CEO of Play Africa
  • Shile Owoka, Country Manager of Smile Identity - Nigeria
  • Eyitemi Egbejule, Cybersecurity analyst

Key insights revealed during the panel sessions include:

  • The University of Johannesburg spends in excess of over R6 million ($378,808 or ₦146 million) per month on data costs to allow for e-learning
  • Phishing emails are among the top causes for personal cyber-attacks in Africa
  • More than 10,000 previously inaccessible start-ups received assistance from Africa Management Institute due to developing an online presence
  • According to A21, a non-profit on a mission to end slavery, there was a 1,000% increase in the vetting  of jobs available locally to reduce the risk of human trafficking during the lockdown.

The panellists submitted that it is important to use data to identify key insights into what put commuters at risk, especially the youth who are most vulnerable to vehicle accidents.

Professor Tshilidzi said the University of Johannesburg spends over six million rand ($378,808 or ₦146 million) per month on data to ensure students remain connected.

The  panel on tech for safety in the new normal explained how a lack of basic care when active online allowed for phishing emails to be among the top causes of cyber attacks.

Regarding  community and personal safety, A21 reported a 1,000% increase in vetting jobs available locally to reduce the risk of human trafficking and that feeling safe alone was consistently infringed on according to Safer Spaces.

Shile said, community surveillance, facial recognition and connecting local biometrics to a nationwide ID database are among tech-driven solutions that can help create a safer society.

Venture capitalist, Michael Jordaan, delivered the keynote address highlighting how passion, need fulfillment, and skill are the mandatory requirements for a successful startup.

"Start small and scale suitably", Michael said, adding that research is essential for relevance and brand longevity.

This  year's pitch den allowed startups to pitch their tech for safety ideas to a panel of judges and potential investors. The pitch den is supported by Innovate Durban.

The winner Keletso Lekwakwe, creator of Password Kid, wins a one-year immersive support programme with Innovate Durban.