Leading cab-hailing service provider Ola, as part of the national 'Street Safe' initiative, launched a new customer safety programme 'Guardian' in India on September 25.
The Guardian is a real-time monitoring system, a first of a kind in the ride-sharing industry. It will track all trips by analysing ride indicators that include route deviations, unexpected and midway stops, amongst others. If any untoward incidents happen, based on the indicators and time of travel, safety triggers will be created and an alert will be sent to the central monitoring system, which will immediately forward it to the Ola's Safety Response Team (SRT).
After analysing the data, the Safety Response Team will connect with the customer to assess any potential unsafe ride and provide assistance as required to further strengthen ride safety of its customers on the platform.
Starting today, the Guardian is being launched as a pilot in Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune. It is slated to expand in Delhi and Kolkata by the end of October and will be rolled out in other cities by the end of the year.
"Safety and innovation are embedded in Ola's DNA. As India's leading mobility platform, we believe in leveraging technology to improve the overall safety of rides across the transportation industry. The Guardian project is a major step in this direction, which accelerates Ola's past efforts in holistically making roads and rides safer and build confidence amongst customers and driver-partners to feel safe on the platform round-the-clock,"Ankur Agrawal, VP - Business Excellence & Safety, Ola, said in a statement.
Furthermore, Ola is working with government authorities to map dark spots and unsafe routes into the monitoring platform to enhance the monitoring system's performance. This capability will further enable Ola's SRT to determine vulnerabilities and augment safety protocols, the company claims.
Ola is also working on another serious issue of driver impersonation, which has led to the harassment of women passengers in recent months. It has already made progress with technology-powered selfie authentication initiative across the country. With this initiative, driver partners are required to validate their identity by taking a selfie and sharing it with the Ola team immediately through the app. This photograph of the driver will then be compared to the image on record. The company has also been updated to include larger photos of driver partners, enabling customers to verify their authenticity and report impersonators.
Ola is going a step further with offline audit checks at transport hubs including airports, railway stations and bus stands. The trained audit team will not only authenticate driver partners but also inspect the state of the car. It is already live in Hyderabad and Bangalore airports, offline audit checks will be rolled out to more transport hubs across India in a phased manner.
If found impersonating a designated driver, their access to their platform will be revoked and it will be subject to investigation.
"Ola will continue to innovate and use AI and machine learning algorithms to further enhance the Guardian project as the project is rolled out nationally. We are certain that these moves will have a measurable impact in galvanising India's mobility ecosystem and providing our customers with an enhanced ride-sharing experience," Agrawal added.