Ola Cabs, TaxiForSure want to give traffic data collected by their vehicles to government bodies, which can be used to address congestion on roads, according to a report by the Economic Times. These companies traditionally use the data to improve fleet management and customer service. Ola Cabs is in talks with traffic police and transport departments in Mumbai and Bangalore, while TaxiForSure is also exploring ways to work with local governments. Both companies give smartphones to drivers so they can use it to find direction, while also clocking in a lot of data.
What’s in it for the cab companies?
It is not clear why these cab companies want to give this data to the government. Note that, at the NASSCOM Product Conclave this year, Ola Cabs Co-Founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal had said that he spends 25% of his time engaging with the government, fire-fighting regulatory issues. One way to get the government on your side is to work with them: take, for example, what WoNoBo has done, launching street-view in partnership with government bodies, while Google has struggled for regulatory approvals in India.
It’s even better if the government is going to pay companies like Ola Cabs and TaxiForSure for this information. Ola Cabs operates in Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Bangalore and Chennai, while TaxiForSure operates in Bangalore, Delhi and Chennai. In all, they have a combined based of 6,000 cabs. This is a limited sample base, compared to some of the data used by mapping providers.
Why not tie-up with a mapping company?
Governments will be able to gain more information from services such as that of MapMyIndia which has real-time traffic information or Google Maps which too does a good job of predicting traffic in an area. Google’s data is improving since they acquired Waze, a social traffic & navigation app which provides directions to drivers. Waze users can also share road reports on accidents, police traps, or any other kind of natural hazards on its way. Then there is the Traffic Genie app for Android and iOS platform that provides real-time traffic information in Bangalore. Nokia Navigation also extended real-time traffic updates to mobile maps and its navigation app, Nokia Drive.
With several options in place, the government has restricted the amount of data they will have access to by approaching only cab drivers. It would make more sense for them to use the data provided by these applications to improve traffic movement in cities. On the other hand, if the taxi companies are the ones who are pushing the effort then they should be sharing with these mapping companies so it can help public at large.