Centre for Internet & Society

This is a session proposed for the Internet Researchers' Conference (IRC) 2016 by Srinivas Kodali and William F. Stafford Jr.



Transportation has been seeing disruptions through Internet aggregators using complex models which nobody understands in detail. This is primarily being seen in the space of urban transport, but is not limited to them alone. 1960`s saw disruptions in airline industry when each airline was fighting for it's own space in flight reservations and aggregations. This disruptive trend is now being observed globally in other transport modes. Aggregators are playing an important role in transporting people and disrupting markets globally. Internet Models are varying within aggregators who are not limiting themselves to ticket reservation, but are also providing information about the availability of transportation options. With increasing demand and surge pricing taking up the market, what is the role of the state. What are the ownership rights of an aggregator? What are licensing/lease models of a provider? What about un-fair practices and consumer rights? What forms of labour and regulation are imagined? What is the role of state run aggregators like IRCTC in this changing landscape?

Many of the platforms that have been created, primarily in the beginning concerning tracking or making complaints, were accessed through websites and have since been migrated either to a combined website/ app structure, or wholly to smartphone apps. This raises interesting and important questions concerning the imagination of an increased reliability and accesibility of services, as well as a power to hold public institutions accountable, as they relate to the question of access to these technologies and the habits of their use, especially demographically and linked to class.

Furthermore, both the near and far future promise an reworking of the internet as a system with which commuters and others interface to consume or deliver a service, to transport as one part of a mobility ecosystem, which is currently being tooled (both in regulatory frameworks and industrial planning) as a microcosm of the internet of things. With internet being connected to personal transport at every intersection of the road, what is the scope of privacy and accountability, the role of encryption layer and also the importance of governance in the fragile/disrupting space. How will the internet impact personal transport of citizens and the economy? Cashless payments, driver-less cars, surge-congestion pricing with disruptive internet models need regulation before they over-run and create chaos with the system.



The session will focus on Delhi as a case study.

Discussants will present their current work around these questions, and then open a discussion among those present on the issues raised therein.

The first discussant will present on the changing architecture of the auto-rickshaw meter as a regulatory platform, from the recent introduction of GPS to the creation of various surveillance and business models which either exploit its native GPS or duplicate and substitute it through the use of smartphones, and the folding of autos into the emerging e-hailing environment and the possible implications of changes being sought in the regulatory framework for connected vehicles. These include technological treatments of questions of class, trust and accountability, as well as significant policy and material changes in the classification of what is owned, by whom, and its conditions of transfer.

Srinivas will continue the presentation on transport data by showing use cases and potential harms about the data. How big data is changing the landscape of transportation systems and privacy concerns with the future of autonomous vehicles and intelligent traffic management systems. Data driven decisions are a big concern when data can also be used to lie at a scale. Data ownership and rights are a challenge the state and the citizen need to think about before forcibly submitting data.

The discussion will be primarily around:

  1. Digital Ownership and Physical Ownership
  2. Scope of Internet Governance on Aggregators
  3. Pricing Models and Service Availability
  4. Future of On-Demand Transportation Services vs Public Transportation





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