By Wayne de Nobrega, CEO of Tracker South Africa
The Internet of Things (IoT) has made a huge impact across the world, and South Africa is no exception.
Increasingly, we stand to benefit from the innovations and efficiencies of a fully connected world. Just one of the gains is through the emergence of connected cars.
While cars have been connected for years in different ways such as linking seamlessly via Bluetooth to our smartphones, streaming music off our smartphones and registering real-time traffic alerts, car manufacturers are beginning to fully embrace connected cars and provide consumers with innovations to satisfy their needs. An example is Ford’s auto park assist that helps to find a parking space and even parks the vehicle for the driver.
Besides car manufacturers, other companies have started to see the value of using telematics technology to further advance their business and deliver added value to customers. For example, the way in which insurers assess risk and extend cover is different from how it was a few years back.
Insurers are using telematics technology and related data to offer more personalised and behaviour-based insurance products. In future, clients might be insured per trip or even for the person themselves based on their driving behaviour as monitored through tracking units.
In the tracking industry, we have also seen a number of innovations. Data gathered from the tracking devices is being analysed to create a picture of road conditions. The associated road quality service will offer accurate road quality information in real time to consumers, businesses and the public sector, improving road safety and comfort for all road users.
This service will not only inform customers about the condition of a specific road, but also warn customers timeously about potential road hazards like potholes and other road anomalies. So, for example, a farmer that transports strawberries could make use of the solution to choose the quickest route and best road surface to ensure that he doesn’t lose revenue because the load arrives bruised and the depot is unwilling to accept the produce.
With a shift away from passive tracking devices to active tracking devices there are further benefits. A tracking device installed in school buses and the related web interface is allowing schools to manage their buses, view driver behaviour, monitor fuel consumption as well as check the bus route and zone.
The school is also able to check and provide drivers with medical and road assistance in case of battery failure, keys locked in the bus or any other emergency. Parents are able to monitor the position of a school bus through an app on their mobile phone, which means sitting in a parking lot waiting for little Johnny to come back from his soccer match is a thing of the past.
This is just one example of fleet management. The fleet industry has, for years, been using vehicle tracking services to gain business insights and proactively manage their fleet, using data collected to monitor for efficiencies and cost optimisation.
However, some fleet managers have gone a step further, including a video camera solution in their vehicles to monitor actual driving behaviour for health and safety purposes. A video camera module allows early detection of bad driving habits and associated risks can be identified swiftly and steps can be taken to engage in proactive and targeted driver coaching.
The end result is a reduction in on-road risk and ultimately safer roads for all to travel on.
The retail industry can also take advantage of vehicle telematics and the data tracking devices provide. For example, by analysing the traffic patterns and associated vehicle owner data around a point of interest, such as a mall, merchants can offer personalised advertising and deals to entice customers to visit their store and enhance their shoppers’ experiences.
These are just some of the innovations made possible through IoT.
Connected cars have evolved in many different ways over the years and will continue to do so.
As long as IoT has the ability to address the different issues that consumers face, we will continue to see further innovations.