Implementation of Seoul City Safe Taxi Services
Taxi and Logistics Division, Seoul Metropolitan Government

The Problem

In 2007, a shocking incident occurred in Seoul. Deemed the “Hongdae Murder Incident” by the media. According to the report, two female office workers in their 20s were reported missing, but were later found dead. The culprit of the crime was found to be a taxi driver, sending shockwaves through society. At the time of the incident, another taxi driver had raped and strangled the two women and dumped their bodies near the Hangang River.
Until then, most Koreans thought that taxis were safe, but after this horrible incident, people began to fear taxis. Particularly, women’s fear of taking a taxi at night escalated, as these sex crimes targeted women going home late at night. Many residents stopped taking taxis at night. Some men, who would send their date home by taxi, would even memorize or jot down the license plate number of the taxi. Such behaviors have become a social norm.
However, as crimes using taxis gradually increased, the city of Seoul decided to introduce “Safety services” allowing residents to use taxis without worrying about their safety. If socially-vulnerable people, such as women and children, take a taxi at night, this service provides information, such as the taxi’s license plate number, boarding time, and transit location. This information is automatically sent via text message to a designated overseer, and the overseer can then check the route of the taxi in real time through the Internet or these days via smart phone. As a result, Seoul residents have started to feel safe about taking taxis again.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
“Residents’ satisfaction with the ‘Safety services”
Seoul City’s taxi “Safety services” were first implemented in 2007, with “Brand Call Taxi Safety service” and were updated in 2011 through the “Card Taxi Safety service”. Both policies were adopted very quickly by many residents. In the case of “Brand Call Taxi Safety service”, it was introduced in December 2007, and a total of 170,295 people used the service in a span of four years, leading to 199,257uses. Some 1,818 people are requesting new services, and monthly service cases are 7,532. The Card Taxi Safety service was introduced in August 2011. Even though this service only began a short time ago, some 25,000 people have already used this service via smart phone application or website. Once residents have used this service, many have commented on on their blogs and shared information about how to use the service with other residents, voluntarily promoting Seoul City’s policy. As such, residents’ positive responses about the Taxi Safety service are encouraging the possibility of developing the service into a more evolved form along with the development of IT technology.
“Removal of factors that may cause crimes”
Among the factors that may cause crimes, the possibility of anonymity and concealment are major factors. In that sense, the Taxi Safety service makes taxi drivers aware of the fact that the information about their taxi operation will be provided to a third party, and this prevents them from even considering committing a crime. In actuality, only a few taxi drivers commit crimes using their taxis. Even if just a few commit a crime, investigation agencies will be able to obtain information about the location of a taxi driver who committed a crime immediately after the occurrence of the crime, and arrest the suspect. Thus, this service will be able to reduce the chances of a crime occurring.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
When crimes involving taxis increased in 2007, Seoul City explored ways to assist citizens with the safe use of taxis. As a result, Seoul City decided to merge the safety service and brand call taxi project. The brand call taxi refers to a call taxi business that Seoul City supports and fosters in order to provide faster and more convenient call taxi services for residents. Seoul City chooses a select few taxi companies that meet certain criteria and designate them as brand call centers and provides administrative assistance for them, and they in turn provide safety services to residents free of charge. At present, four taxi companies, including SK Navi Call, Dongbu nCall, Tridime S TAXI, and KT K-TAXI, have established a cooperative relationship with Seoul City and are participating in the brand call taxi project. They all are providing brand call taxi safety services to residents free of charge.
The Card Taxi Safety service provides more advanced safety servicesThe Brand Call Taxi Safety service has some limitations in that residents may only use brand call taxis. To overcome such limitations and to revitalize the use of safety services, Seoul City decided to implement a method in early 2011, which provides safety services using a credit card approval device installed in taxis by signing a cooperation agreement with transportation card company Korea Smart Card Co. In Seoul, there are a total of 72,000 taxis, and 98% of them are equipped with a credit card approval devices. If Seoul City can provide safety services using the credit approval device, the majority of the taxis in Seoul will be able to provide safety services. This plan was successfully implemented, and Seoul City began providing the Card Taxi Safety service from August 1, 2011. With this plan, Seoul residents can now receive safety services from the vast majority of the taxis in Seoul free of charge.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
“Induce competition among companies to provide differentiated safety services: Brand Call Taxi Safety service”
Seoul City designated four companies as brand call centers to provide safety services, and induced competition between these companies to provide differentiated safety services. Seoul City conducted evaluations of these companies everysix months, and provided incentives to companies who faithfully provided safety services. Accordingly, these companies started providing differentiated safety services. For instance, SK Navi Call provides not only the location of their passengers to the passengers’ to the designated overseer, but they also provide injury insurance services so that the insurance coverage will pay up to 10 million won if their passengers are involved in an accident while taking their brand call taxi. In the case of KT K-TAXI, they provided information about passengers’ locations real-time to the designated overseers. As such, Seoul City was able to revitalize the residents’ use of safety services through inducing competition among taxi companies.
“Expand the provision of safety services by using existing infrastructures: Card Taxi Safety service”
Seoul City took advantage of the fact that 98% of taxis running in Seoul were equipped with a card approval device. Due to the prevalence of the credit card approval device, most of the taxis in Seoul would be able to provide these services. Accordingly, in cooperation with Korea Smart Card Co., which is in charge of supplying card terminals to taxis, Seoul City decided to provide a new form of safety services using a method that automatically transmits the passengers’ locations to their designated overseer when passengers pay their taxi fares with a credit card. The plan was implemented in early 2011, and it has been providing card taxi safety services to Seoul residents since August 2011.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
A foundation laid for providing safety services in 2007: Brand Call Taxi Safety services
Seoul City established a plan for revitalizing brand call taxi in March 2007. They published a want ad to attract companies in March, and held an exhibition in April. After reviewing designs in September, Seoul City launched Brand Call Taxi in December 2007. Afterwards, Seoul City required brand call taxi companies to provide safety services. At that time, only 20,000 taxis applied as brand call taxis, but later, as all of them began providing brand call taxi safety services free of charge, Seoul City was able to lay a foundation for the provision of safety services. When the foundation for the provision of safety services became stabilized in 2007, more than 40,000 residents were able to receive safety services each year.
Expanded safety services and diverse methods of providing services in 2011: Card Taxi Safety service
Seoul City planned to provide safety services using card approval devices in 2011 in order to expand safety services. Subsequently, Seoul City, together with Korea Smart Card Co., investigated the validity of the Card Taxi Safety service project and the required expenses in January. From the results of the investigation, Seoul City was able to review the possibility of providing a more advanced form of safety services than its existing brand call taxi safety services by adding a GPS system to the installed card approval device. This way, residents would be able to get information about the location of taxis in real time. In February, Seoul City explained the Card Taxi Safety service project to the Labor Union of taxi drivers. Seoul City asked taxi drivers and companies to add GPS to their existing credit card approval device and encouraged them to voluntarily participate in the project. The planning was implemented smoothly, and taxis were equipped with GPS, and after several test operations, the services began from August 2011.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
Obtain approval from taxi drivers before providing safety services
Safety services are a type of service that provides information about the location of a taxi require the consent of the taxi drivers. If information about the location of taxi drivers is collected and provided without the drivers’ consent, it violates Korea’s regulations on the protection and use of location information. To resolve such problems, Seoul City received consent from taxi drivers who join the brand call taxi project. Before adding GPS to a credit card approval device of a taxi, Seoul City also collected taxi companies’ consents as well before providing the Card Taxi Safety service.
However, some taxi companies did not like the fact that Seoul City would collect location information on their taxis, and refused to consent. They were afraid that Seoul City would monitor and control them once the city collected all operational information. Due to these reasons, Seoul City went through some difficulties in implementing its plan for installing GPS in all taxis by the end of 2011. To resolve these problems, Seoul City once again requested these companies to cooperate with the project, and reassured them that location information collected from taxis would be used only for providing safety services, and not for other purposes. On one hand, Seoul City pressured taxi companies to participate in the project by indicating that they would be at a disadvantage when Seoul City evaluates the services of taxi companies. Eventually, more than 95% of taxi companies consented to provide safety services, and Seoul City was able to install GPS, allowing for real time location tracking of an entire fleet of taxis.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
Financial Resources: The use of private capital and the compensation of expenses
For the Brand Call Taxi and the Card Taxi Safety service, Seoul City did not allocate additional budgets, but instead used private capital for the projects. In the case of Brand Call Taxi, call centers compensated the expenses needed for providing the Brand Call Taxi Safety service by creating revenue: (1) from calling fees earned by taxis and (2) from Seoul City subsidies. In the case of the Card Taxi Safety service, Korea Smart Card Co., which provides services, compensated the expenses needed to provide safety services by selling transportation data collected from taxis, instead of receiving financial assistance from Seoul City. The sale of location information does not contain information about individual taxis, but contains only overall transportation statistics, so it does not infringe on the privacy of each individual taxi.
Technological Resources: The use of IT technology
The Card Taxi Safety service is based on three kinds of technology: a card approval system, GPS location information system, and a mobile application. When a passenger pays the taxi fare with their credit card, the information about the passenger, along with the location information about the taxi is collected via GPS, and is sent immediately to a designated overseer in the form of a text message. The designated overseer of a passenger can receive information about the taxi and may also check the location of the passenger in real time on a map.
Human Resources: Stimulation of taxi drivers’ motivation for safety services
A sticker is attached to the exterior of any taxi that provides safety services, so that residents can tell which taxi offers safety services prior to entering the taxi. As a result, even though taxi drivers do not directly profit by providing safety services, they offer safety services voluntarily; as such safety services are provided effectively.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
Social and cultural sustainability
The provision of safety services began with the social needs for safety. As a society develops, residents’ demands for safety increases, and as such safety services will continuously evolve as technology develops further.
Financial and technological sustainability
At present, Seoul City is providing only two types of safety services: the Brand Call Taxi Safety Service and the Card Taxi Safety Service. However, as technology develops further, more convenient and diversified safety services will be provided at lower costs. In addition, the current safety services are led by Seoul City, but in the future, as technology develops, residents themselves will be able to enjoy safety services through mobile applications.
Applicability to other local and overseas agencies
The provision of safety services does not require high technology or capital, so any agency can apply safety services at anytime. Seoul City’s safety services, which use brand call taxis and taxi card approval devices, represent a good model for other agencies to provide safety services.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The key to business success: Maintain a close cooperative relationship with private companies
The most influential factor, which has led the provision of the Brand Call Taxi and the Card Taxi Safety Services to be successful, resulted from the close cooperative system maintained between Seoul City and private companies. Under an agreement that the provision of safety services is needed for public purposes, Seoul City, which determines the policies, and private companies, which directly execute the project, cooperated openly with the only restriction focused on expenses. As a result, without sacrifice from either side, Seoul City was able to achieve the goal of providing safety services.
Recovery of citizens’ trust in the use of taxis
When the taxi-related crime occurred in 2007, sending shock waves across society, and residents’ fear about using taxis at night increased, Seoul City was able to ease the peoples’ safety concerns and deal with the citizens’ fears by taking swift measures to provide safety services to residents. Due to Seoul City’s timely implementation of appropriate policies, the residents’ trust recovered rapidly, which might have otherwise cost more and taken more time and effort to recover if Seoul City had be slow to react.
Revitalizing the use of safe services with Seoul City’s leading administration
The safety services are significant in that Seoul City led the provision of this new form of service. If one is looking at other cases of policy implementation, most of the time, widely used technology is applied later, but in the case of the safety services, Seoul City attracted the citizens’ interests by swiftly adopting technology to provide safety services, and this in turn has led to revitalizing the use of taxi services. Seoul City was able to increase the effects of its policies and the residents’ expectations by implementing policies proactively, rather than reactively.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Taxi and Logistics Division, Seoul Metropolitan Government
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Jung young-hoon
Title:   action officer  
Telephone/ Fax:  
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Postal Code:  

          Go Back

Print friendly Page