Zemcar CEO Juliette Kayyem Shares July 4th Safety Tips

Whether you are going into the city for the Boston Pops or enjoying a local parade, there are a number of concerns you may have as a parent when it comes to keeping your family safe in a large crowd. While July 4th is a time of celebration, it doesn’t hurt to have some precautionary measures in place. This can include plans and measures to prevent (where possible) and mitigate: inclement weather, lost/wandering children, crowd management, and traffic and parking navigation, among other things.

As most of my advice for keeping the home safe entails, this is no different: just be prepared. Know the specifics of the event you are attending and have a plan.

Some things to consider to make your day more enjoyable and decrease risk:

  • Transportation and parking. Does it make the most sense to drive and park, take public transportation, use a ride service, or even walk? Think about traffic, parking fees, road closures, public transit crowds – and pick what is most amenable to your family and the plans for the day.
    What you can and cannot bring. Many events limit what you can bring in, including backpacks and food, so be prepared. If you absolutely need certain items like medication or snacks, make sure you research the rules beforehand and get any special permissions needed.
  • Entry items and identification. Things such as tickets, passes, ID of any kind. Have them ready and easily accessible; then secured on your person once no longer needed for entry.
  • Evacuation routes. Know how to move away from the event, either by car/vehicle or on foot. If the event is inside a building, know your exit points. Talk to the whole family about the routes you have identified.
  • Family separation. Whether a wandering child or an evacuation, there is a risk of being separated from your group. Make a plan with everyone you are attending the event with on where to meet and how best to communicate if you are separated. This may include telling your child to stay where they are and you will find them, depending on the event logistics. Make sure your children have your cell phone number.
  • Event resources. Make sure your children know where and to whom to go to in case they need help. Point out security or other staff, or certain areas designated for these folks/this purpose, when you get to the event.

And most of all, have fun! There is always some element of risk in large crowds, but with some planning and preparation, you can rest easier with the knowledge you have of the event and surrounding area.

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Safety Improvements at Uber is Good News for the Rideshare Industry

Amanda Robbins serves as Zemcar’s Trust Advisor. She has over ten years experience working in risk management in both the public and private sector, including as a policy advisor for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security and for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

There has been a lot of talk about the new safety improvements rolling out at Uber this summer. This is all good news for the rideshare industry overall. As members of the gig economy, we all own a part in the learning and growing of better service for our customers, especially in the area of safety and security. For rideshares in particular, whether you are driving men, women, or children, safety should be #1. At Zemcar, we do our best every single day to achieve the high safety standards we have set for ourselves, and we applaud the recent efforts at Uber to make improvements in their service as well. Check out this article from Forbes on what Uber is doing, and what you can do to help keep yourself and your loved ones safe when using a rideshare service.  

Zemcar’s Trust Advisor Highlights the Importance of Focusing on Safety in Rideshares

Amanda Robbins serves as Zemcar’s Trust Advisor. She has over ten years experience working in risk management in both the public and private sector, including as a policy advisor for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security and for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Rideshare for children. This concept should be synonymous with safety. However, this is not an organic component of the larger rideshare environment, as has been identified in many (scary) articles and investigations. Safety has to be a dedicated focus to be successful. Creating a rideshare for children is a specialty. It is a niche market for the simple fact that its customers, its riders, are our most vulnerable population and they require (and deserve) a different set of rules.

Traditional rideshare companies have, in not so many words, admitted as such by stating in their terms of service that they do not accept unaccompanied minors as passengers. The reality is the legal teams there are smart, they do not want to take on this risk, and they advise their drivers to also not take the risk. So the question is, why would you as a parent take the risk? Especially if you do not have to.

Safety should be the standard when we are talking about anything child related. I come from a security background that includes assessing risk and vulnerability at schools. It is a similar concept: we do not want to entrust our children to anyone who does not have the training and is not prepared to protect them to the best of their abilities.

When I first joined the rideshare world, I tried to look at my position as the Trust Advisor as a parent and a professional. Both were telling me to treat this as I would treat the safety and security evaluations and emergency planning for a school environment (or a daycare facility, or other similar entity that I have worked with in the past). Start with the assets. Yes, this a very rough term when talking about children, but the meaning is what is important – what is so critical to this ‘operation’ that we could not survive a loss of that ‘asset.’ Easy, the children. So it is also easy to know where to go from there: focus all attention and resources on protecting the children.

That is what a rideshare designed for children does. The same as a school or daycare, maybe even more so in that a driver’s only responsibility is to get the child there and back safely, albeit with some friendly banter of course, but they really are not responsible for teaching them to how to be good humans, or how to do long division.

If all our resources are not focused on this concept of safety then we are doing it wrong and are going to fail. That is why there have been so many (too many) scary stories about the larger rideshare community doing it wrong when it comes to safety. And really, safety for children (which they do not focus on at all), but also safety for their drivers and more vulnerable passengers. We can save that larger conversation for another day. Today, I wanted to focus on the children.

Advisor Answers: Alan Bersin

At Zemcar, we have an amazing Board of Advisors with backgrounds that span children’s health, security, technology, and business. Transparency, safety, and security are our mission and, with that in mind, we thought it was important that you get a chance to know a little bit more about our team driving that mission.

Today’s interview is with Alan Bersin. Alan’s dedication to public service, education, and security aligns well with Zemcar’s brand promise to families. Alan has served as an Inaugural Fellow in the Homeland Security Project at the Belfer Center at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, as a Global Fellow at the Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington D.C., as Assistant Secretary for Policy & International Affairs and Chief Diplomatic Officer in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as Vice President of INTERPOL for the Americas Region and as a member of the INTERPOL Executive Committee.  He served through 2016 as Chair of the Advisory Committee for the International Policing Division Steering Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). Alan was also appointed as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California by President Bill Clinton, and he has held numerous other distinguished state and local government positions, including serving as California’s Secretary of Education, Superintendent of Public Education in San Diego, and Chairman of the San Diego Airport Authority.

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Q: What attracted you to Zemcar?

A: Having raised three daughters, I was delighted to learn of Zemcar’s service, which combines creatively and efficiently the elements of convenience, security, manageable cost and assured reliability. The practical reality of an on-call, nanny-on-wheels is one that my wife and I would have made much use of – had it been available when our children were growing up. We intend to use Zemcar for our grandchildren, as circumstances and opportunities arise to do so.

Q: What about your experience do you think will bring the most value to Zemcar?

A: As a father and grandfather, a former law enforcement official, and homeland security advisor, I bring the perspective both of a consumer and a supplier to the objective of improving Zemcar’s service.

Q: What else are you currently doing in your career?

A: Since leaving public service in January 2017, I serveat the global law firm of Covington & Burling as a Senior Advisor to the firm; as an Inaugural Fellow in the Homeland Security Project at the Belfer Center at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and as Global Fellow at Wilson Center in Washington D.C.   I am also the Chairman of BorderWorks, a consulting firm specializing in matters of Border Security and Management, including infrastructure projects on the U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico.

Q: Besides Zemcar, what’s a “must have app” that you can’t live without?

A: Among the apps now crucial to making my daily life work more efficiently and effectively are: WhatsApp and Parkmobile.

Q: Do you think technology has made parenting today easier or more difficult?

A: As in most other realms of experience, technology can produce both results for parents, depending upon the way in which it is applied and permitted to impact our lives. It takes deliberate thought and requires careful planning to maximize the benefits of technology and minimize the potential downside of adverse effects.

Q: One piece of advice to parents?

A: As mothers and fathers discover in due course, parenting is an imperfect exercise to be sure, and can be managed by design only up to a point because of the emotional intensity (and complexity) of the relationship. Life happens. Parents should remain painfully aware and own up to the many mistakes they will make in raising their children. Unconditional love is the remedy to most of these errors and resolves most of them successfully. As my Mother used to say: “Whatever the question, love is a good answer.”

Uber’s Challenges Create Opportunity in the Rideshare Market – One Key Ingredient has been Missing.

There’s no ignoring the big news of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s resignation, announced last week. And while the media have written various views on whether the decision stemmed from a shareholder revolt or had more to do with his personal life (we were saddened to hear of his mother’s death last month), I’m more interested in taking a look at what Uber’s tumultuous journey since 2009 means not only for “moving Uber forward,” but for the entire industry’s future.

At Zemcar, we recognized that there was a missing element in the existing rideshare economy: a family-friendly and safety-first alternative. As with any new industry, the focus of early movers was on the technology and the business model first. As such, what should have been one of the key features – safety – took a back seat and has continued to haunt some of the industry’s first innovators. Further, these issues alienate target market segments that could really benefit from rideshare but absolutely need safety first: children, women, and seniors.

And although Uber has faced many battles, the rideshare industry is at an exciting precipice, becoming safer and more focused on specific communities that can benefit from such programs. Uber’s recent moves are indicative of the wave of change taking place as they add programs that other rideshare vendors have offered from the beginning. Uber’s journey has opened doors for other players to build a better mousetrap and more trustworthy services, so it’s going to be an interesting few years as both Uber and new players evolve – including Zemcar, of course.

So what does a successful rideshare that families can trust look like?

  1. First, the business model for any rideshare company absolutely has to include comprehensive safety features and precautionsIt’s not enough to be reactive – reporting incidents are important but it’s not a long-term solution and it doesn’t stop the issues. In order to make the industry work for both riders and drivers, rideshare companies have to be proactive and aggressive with safety. It’s why at Zemcar, we not only conduct the standard background tests, but also include terrorist watch list checks, comprehensive face-to-face interviews of every driver, and are the only rideshare company in the world to offer the option of watching your family member’s ride on video. Essentially, if there are any local regulations in the states we serve,
    we will abide by them but we intend to always uphold our high standards regardless.
  2. Choice and community are another big part of what we believe is a winning rideshare formula, especially for one to work outside of urban areas. Parents and families are more comfortable with familiar faces – offering the choice to call a specific driver or schedule the same driver repeatedly, creates a stronger customer relationship. It’s been said that it “takes a village” to raise a family, and so we see ourselves as part of that village – creating a trustworthy pool of drivers who care about and enjoy taking care of their customers. You likely wouldn’t hire a different babysitter or nanny to come into your home and take care of your children each week if you already had one that you knew and trusted. And yet, one person is never enough, because real people get sick and have scheduling issues. Why should a driver be any different? Our app gives you the choice to save and select many trusted drivers for these occasions.
  3. Driver care is the third crucial piece. It’s no secret that many drivers from other rideshare companies have talked about poor treatment that makes them feel like “just a number,” and not an important or respected part of the company. It’s impossible to create a positive, unified and healthy culture if the care expected isn’t coming down from the very top. In other words, if you’re sending unhappy drivers out into the world, what makes you think they’re going to treat your riders well? Perhaps more than any other company, happy employees – even if they’re classified as “contractors” – who truly believe in the mission of the company, are crucial in a rideshare culture. Minimum base fares, face to face meetings and maintaining an operations center that is available at the push of a button for drivers can all help create a positive culture that includes driver care.

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We knew when we started Zemcar that the market was a bit embattled and we’d have a lot of others’ misgivings to overcome, especially as we targeted the sensitive teen and senior riders market segment. We’re dedicated to not just being a rideshare company but becoming a key and trusted entity in the communities we serve. This is reflected in everything from our business model and tagline – your family’s trusted driver – to partnerships with other community-oriented businesses like the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston and J.P. Licks, among others not yet announced.

While Uber paved the way for a great idea, their challenges have also left an opportunity in the market. The key to addressing those challenges will be to focus on what really makes a company work – the people. Happy and safe drivers and riders are what will make the top rideshare company successful well into the future. We can use technology to accomplish a lot, but we can never forget the human element. And that, perhaps, is the biggest lesson of all from Uber.

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