Ola has introduced Ola Mobility Institute to research on policy and mobility, reports the Economic Times. It will focus on transportation-oriented urban planning and digitization of mobility among other topics.

Headed by Anand Shah, the Institute claims to have a team of strategic thinkers, researchers, academics and policy specialists, and plans to hire 12 mobility experts over the next year plus have a global advisory board. Shah was hired by Ola in February this year to head strategic initiatives such as the electric vehicle program and potential autonomous vehicles experiments and driving.

The evolution of policy and platform problems

This is an interesting initiative by Ola in terms of looking at mobility and its social impact as a whole. While the Indian taxi and app based cab booking markets have evolved similar to the ones globally, the latter has attracted regulation almost instantaneously in India, just like it has happened globally. So if we’re inclined to look towards developed countries to guideline policy for us in terms of internet based transport services, we’re all equally in the dark.

There has been no denying that while Ola and Uber allowed rapid car-buying and mobilisation of nearly 450,000 drivers combined (average of Ola and Uber drivers in India in 2016), both the companies have faced saturation, driver protests, abuse of platform and dropping incentives which has made drivers question the benefit of being on both platforms. There was also a #DeleteUber protest globally.

Ola’s expansion to Australia and the UK might give it insight into different markets and their regulatory environments, which it could then possibly pitch to the Indian government. The online cab operator has gone directly to state governments and arms to forge MoUs with:

More of our Ola coverage here.