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Ola’s fight against COVID-19 comes with their 5 layers of safety says Anand Subramanian

Here's how Ola has been using advancing technology in order to offer a safe cab ride even during the time of a pandemic.

India TV Tech Desk Edited by: India TV Tech Desk New Delhi Published on: August 18, 2020 17:42 IST
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Image Source : OLA

Anand Subramanian, Spokesperson at Ola.

During these tough times, most of us have been working from home. However, a few fields require the employees to head over to their office. Moreover, a lot of people do not have their own personal vehicles. This is where the role of cabs and services like Ola comes in. But the fear of COVID-19 or coronavirus has made us a bit paranoid around travelling in cabs. Ola aims to solve this with its own set of safety measures.

Here's how Ola has been using advancing technology in order to offer a safe cab ride even during the time of a pandemic. IndiaTV News reached out to Ola with a couple of questions and here's what the company has to say:

1. How has the response been for Ola post lockdown given that people are avoiding commuting and that most offices and work are still happening from home?

With social distancing being the new normal and, safety and hygiene being of utmost significance, Ola has been cognizant of citizens’ apprehensions and has taken a number of focused steps towards this end. Building on our safety-first commitment, we have launched a number of initiatives under the ‘Ride Safe India’ initiative that now serves as best practices for the entire industry.

With strict adherence to safety measures like sanitization before and after the ride, mandatory fumigation after every 48 hours and making it compulsory for both the driver-partners and customers to wear a mask, we have taken all possible measures to ensure safety on every ride. Our mandatory selfie authentication and flexible cancellation policies have helped us to closely monitor the adherence to our measures and also given the customers and driver partners the power to experience enhanced safety.

With all these protocols in place, we have been able to instil confidence among both our customers and driver-partners alike. We have been witnessing a positive growth trend over the past month, both nationally and globally, as cities are opening up and economic activity is restored. In many of the major cities in India, we are already serving up to 50% rides as compared to the pre-COVID phase. 

A major use case for mobility at this time is that of people going to and fro their workplaces, and Ola Corporate is suitably positioned to serve this additional demand. We have set in place, industry-leading safety initiatives globally, to deliver the highest levels of trust and reliability for corporates to organise safe and quality mobility solutions for their employees.

We believe our strategic interventions through initiatives like ‘Ride Safe India’ have resonated well with the people at large, and we will continue to innovate to be able to revive from the effects of the pandemic and continue to offer safe mobility services to all. 

2. How is Ola fighting COVID-19 and what are the plans ahead?

The safety and well-being of our stakeholders continue to be of utmost importance and while certain standards of hygiene have always been maintained, this pledge continues to be consistently driven through our ‘Ride Safe India’ and ‘5 layers of safety’ initiatives.

As part of ‘Ride Safe India’, we have earmarked ₹500 Crores that are going towards various initiatives to enhance safety including a stream of technology advancements and additions to our deep cleaning regimens. The Ola app has been redesigned to make it COVID-ready with the in-app integration of the Aarogya Setu to provide added assurance.

Ola’s ‘5 layers of safety’, too, which includes mandatory mask usage, pre and post-ride vehicle sanitization, flexible cancellations and regular health checks complement our efforts to provide highly sanitized mobility experiences. Free fumigation of all vehicles are also carried out every 48 hours across our network of 500+ Safety Zones. Additionally, a protective screen between the driver-partner and passengers have been installed and we continue to provide our driver-partners with all information through constant communication and training modules. 

Encouraging collective responsibility from all stakeholders, we will continue to develop solutions to provide a fully safe and sanitized mobility experience and further solidify our commitment towards ensuring a high-quality and reliable ride experience.

3. What are the technological innovations Ola has adapted to fight the pandemic? And what’s the way ahead? 

In the current climate, it is important to constantly innovate to stay ahead of the constant challenges. Our tech initiatives are redefining the operational mechanisms in the mobility services segment to ensure the highest level of hygiene and safety for our customers and driver-partners. We have pioneered technology initiatives around driver-health, wellness and mask-detection capabilities. For instance, we have introduced a mandatory selfie authentication policy whereby we ensure every driver-partner wears a mask during the rides. We have also used tech to be able to ensure full-scale implementation of our on-ground safety efforts. Regular temperature checks of drivers and mandatory fumigation every 48 hours are closely monitored. If a driver fails to adhere to these, he is sent an app reminder and is given a 24-hour window to complete the processes, failing which he is off-roaded. We have also used technology with the integration with the Aarogya Setu app. This has been done to enable the team to get access to real-time data and enhance safety measures. 

We also provide constant training modules on new safety procedures and ensure all driver-partners are trained and strictly adhere to the hygiene and safety protocols. With all these measures, we have spearheaded the industry practice and have transformed the way vehicle safety and hygiene standards are being perceived across the mobility industry.

4. How difficult was it for the company and employees to bring in so many new features to the app in such a short time.

Safety and hygiene have always been a priority and we have continued to drive this by continuously innovating to deliver the best ride-sharing experience. During the lockdown period, we introduced ‘Ola Emergency’ across 20+ cities to facilitate essential medical travel that comprised a suite of precautionary safety measures. Our experiences enabled us to translate our learnings into best practices to elevate our protocols with technology and innovation accelerating our efforts. From understanding customers and drivers expectations to scenario planning as well as cross-functional collaboration with Product-Tech and Data-Science teams, we were able to facilitate a relatively seamless transition and scale our comprehensive safety program to 200+ cities. 

5. How is Ola helping drivers? Are they flexible to learn new features and rules the company has recently introduced?

Since the beginning of the lockdown, we ensured that our driver community had access to all the resources, information and support to ensure their safety. All drivers’ part of the Ola platform have undergone dedicated training modules and received guidance, which prepared them to follow mandated safety precautions. These include a detailed understanding of how to carry out deep sanitization of cars using disinfectant liquids, wipe down high-touch surfaces, which is carried out before every ride, a practice recommended personal hygiene, and maintain hygiene equipment in cars, amongst others. We have also provided Insurance to the drivers to help them secure their earnings. They aren’t forced to choose work over their health and this results in increased safety for all.

They continue to personally invest in ensuring that their customers enjoy a safe and hygienic ride experience and have very quickly assimilated all the new protocols as part of their daily routine. The network of 500+ Safety Zones across the country continue to further strengthen the drivers’ efforts through free fumigation and deep-cleaning services, health-checks and enabling them with safety equipment such as sanitizers, disinfectants, and masks. Our 24/7 partner care team stands ready to provide additional support and guidance on all these measures, along with answering any other query that driver-partners may have.

We are excited with the response from the drivers. They understand that this is a collective effort and have been doing their part to ensure a safe experience for all our customers.

6. What initiatives can we see in future from Ola as far as Covid-19 is concerned?

Ola has committed ₹500 Crores over the next year, to enhance safety in mobility in our fight against COVID-19. Having resumed services across 200+ Indian cities and towns with enhanced safety protocols, we will focus on enhancing solutions across technology innovation, driver training and safety standards. We are committed to raising the industry benchmarks for safety and hygiene to ensure reliable mobility solutions are accessible to all. The health of all our driver-partners and customers remains to be our first priority and we will collectively work towards bringing the best practices and innovation for the entire mobility ecosystem in India, and globally. 

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