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Telematics is shaping the ‘smart city’

Telematics takes in telecommunications, vehicular technologies, road transportation, road safety, electrical engineering, and computer science. The types of devices include sensors, instrumentation, wireless communications and the connectivity that surrounds the Internet of Things.

Data makes the world go round
They may not be noticeable, but there are many sensors on vehicles and in targeted locations collecting valuable data. This includes data from vehicles, traffic lights and even the general public. This collection and analytics process of big data is termed telematics, and there are several cutting-edge solutions that process the real-time data.

Telematics data is also useful for businesses, in terms of helping companies to improve productivity; avoiding safety issues and optimizing utilization; and providing new insight to developing the ‘smart city’ through vehicle data collected; this includes things like warning about pot holes in the road (and flagging to municipal authorities that repairs are needed) or assessing the need for more parking.

One example of a telematics system is a device called Geotab. This is a smart city hub connecting its artificial intelligence with telematics across a number of countries, with networks established in North America and Europe. The types of data collected include traffic congestion, carbon measurement, fuel usage plus other metrics that can be used to create transportation solutions for urban sustainability.

For businesses, applications like Geotab can be used to automatically classify vehicle usage patterns and also to predict maintenance issues (which is particularly useful for fleet car hire). This telematics equipment captures streams of data via a 900 MHz radio and sends it in real-time to servers for analysis.

Telematics in action
For example, Pepsico has installed Geotab in its fleet of vehicles. The types of information collected by Pepsico managements include tracking vehicle locations and transit progress through global positioning system tracking; gathering data on engine diagnostics; and even assessing whether the driver is wearing a seatbelt. Other information that can be collected also support safety, such as the condition of the brakes of the vehicle.

Similarly, UPS has used the system to track the location of its delivery trucks as well as identify ways in which drivers can make adjustments and improve their performance based on collected data. While UPS have used telematics before, as the technology has become more sophisticated the usefulness of the data has increased.

According to Donna Longino, a UPS manager: “What is new is the proprietary information and sophisticated algorithms we developed to analyze the rich stream of data captured by more than 200 sensors on our delivery trucks.” One business advantage called out is the ability to move to conditions-based preventive maintenance schedule.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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