Originally, the term “telematics” was coined to describe the combination of telecommunication and information management systems. In fleet operations, the idea was that onboard systems could communicate with fleet management solutions to provide valuable data on vehicles and operations that would enhance processes and streamline maintenance and repair activities. This activity could take place across cellular- and satellite-based mobile communication platforms, and using new wireless handheld devices.
Over time, telematics has also been used to refer to many automated vehicle systems. One of the earliest examples was General Motors' OnStar, which was among the first systems to combine GPS location capabilities with roadside assistance and remote diagnostics. On a growing number of trucks, including those used by utility fleets, telematics solutions can combine data from electronically controlled components, such as engines and transmissions with onboard communication technology.
In preparing for this issue of Utility Fleet Professional, we began asking ourselves what exactly constitutes telematics in the realm of fleet management. Our searches of several industry databases, for example, turned up a long list of systems that are associated with the term. Those include accident management systems, alarms/warning systems, audiovisual equipment, backing safety systems, backup alarms, collision warning systems, onboard computers, electronic obstacle detection, electronic safety devices, engine monitoring and controls, GPS tracking, ignition interlocks, mobile data terminals, rearview camera systems, vehicle monitoring systems, video safety systems and video surveillance equipment.
While we make plans to cover this growing area of interest in future issues – with a focus on what fleet managers need to know – we’re hoping to gain some valuable insight at the Telematics for Fleet Management USA 2012 conference (www.telematicsupdate.com/fleet/) scheduled to be held in Atlanta in mid-November.
The focus of the conference is “Fleet Telematics Geared for Mass Market: Utilize Data, Heightened Applications and Connectivity to Deliver ROI for Fleet Operators.” Topics on this year’s agenda include:
• Create Transparent and Seamless Fleet Operations: Understand the types of benchmarking – such as performance and energy – relevant to fleet operations to give context to data and visibility to fleet managers for operational efficiency.
• Establish OEM's Priorities from a Fleet Perspective: Understand which additional data is being sent to the engine bus, such as rpm, odometer, fuel usage in real time, and flow indication to monitor myriad data streams and offer a comprehensive telematics solutions portfolio.
• Software as a Service (SaaS) – Prosper Through Cutting-Edge Business Models: Assess how to adopt a competitive pricing model that takes into account initial setup, usage parameters and opportunities to charge per transaction of data to gain optimum ROI.
• Embracing the 4G Future: Consider the 4G spectrum to integrate new fleet-centric services, such as real-time maps and driver behavior monitoring that will encourage heightened safety and promote fuel efficiency.
The commercial telematics industry has reached a key tipping point, according to conference organizer Telematics Update, which bills itself as “the reference point for automotive telematics, mobile and web industries.” Look for UFP to follow up on this increasingly important topic in the future.