Opinion Article By: Andre Ittmann, Cartrack CEO South Africa
Telematics is currently experiencing major growth and is considered to be an important and even essential industry for a range of industries around the world.
Outside the field of logistics and vehicle tracking, telematics has not, up to now, received much media coverage in an almost 30-year history.
The assertion above is evident in the fact that IT research firm Gartner Inc forecasts that revenue in the global commercial fleet telematics market will increase to $55 billion by 2021 (almost twice the current market revenue) and will grow at an aggregated growth rate of 18% per year between 2016 and 2021. Gartner also notes that the use of commercial fleet management or telematics systems in North America is expected to increase at a 15% compound annual growth rate over the next four years, due to new trucking regulations in that continent.
Telematics is a branch of information technology that relates to the long-distance transmission of computerised information. It is an interdisciplinary field that encompasses a wide range of sectors and industries, including vehicle telematics, tracking, fleet management, satellite navigation, wireless data and vehicle safety communication, among others.
The rapid ascent of the telematics industry is linked to the wide-ranging impact of accelerating technological innovation, as this industry enables certain challenges to be tackled faster and more efficiently than ever before.
For example, wireless communications and mobile connectivity, in the form of technology such as the internet, mobile phone apps, wearable devices and connected cars and homes, have revolutionised human interaction and daily functioning.
As the demand for better and increased connectivity gains significant momentum, there is also a need for more complex software and broader applications that can maximise the abstraction of available data. In this regard,
telematics is playing a dominant role in this evolution.
The offerings in transportation mobility technology have evolved from satellite-based telematics solutions to terrestrial solutions, and from embedded hardware in vehicles to mobile applications that can be used on a wide range of hardware platforms. The cost of devices and communication have also been reduced significantly, resulting in the increasing adoption of this technology among consumers and fleet owners.
Telematics has particularly influenced the stolen vehicle recovery industry, where telematics is a key component of the service offered. It has also revolutionised the traditionally conservative insurance industry, where insurance companies use telematics data to assess driver risk and tailor premiums to an individual’s risk profile, as well as to reconstruct accident scenes and evaluate claims, directly resulting in lower insurance costs.
In future, car insurance will continue to incorporate telematics, which will ensure the fairest deal for consumers. By basing risk assessments on information specific to individual drivers, insurers can disaggregate pricing, thereby negating the need to bracket conscientious, careful and responsible drivers in the same category as reckless and irresponsible drivers.
Another example of the impact of telematics is the recent ruling by the Federal Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the US that commercial vehicles must have electronic devices capable of recording service hours. Three million vehicles are expected to implement the changes, which are intended to help create a safer work environment for drivers over the next 18 months. The expectation is that Canada will soon announce a similar mandate, while other countries such as Brazil and China have also mandated the adoption of telematics-related legislation.
The future development of the telematics industry will continue to be linked to advancements in technologies across varied fields, including global positioning systems, driver-behaviour modelling, cloud computing, kinematics, real-time tracking, and smartphones and software.
Cartrack’s considerable experience, knowledge and skills in the telematics field, has allowed us to grow at a swift pace over our 13-year history and forge a wide-ranging and meaningful impact in this sector, with operations established in
24 countries, spanning Africa, Europe, Asia and the US.
We insist on strengthening local knowledge and capacity and develop our technologies in-house, with our tracking devices manufactured at our Rosebank head office. More than 60 new technologies have been developed by our research and development department, with more spend imminent. The reliance of the industry on skilled labour and technological innovation has resulted in us playing a meaningful role in bolstering South Africa’s pool of scarce skills. This year alone, we granted 14 bursaries for students studying at tertiary institutions, in fields of value to the automotive-technology industry.
We have also developed and evolved a software-as-a-service system based on our successful prisoner tracking system, Integrate, which made its debut at the INTERPOL World 2015 exhibition. It has been used extensively by the police and government in Singapore, where the technology has enabled law enforcement agencies to effectively monitor persons of interest, such as offenders on extended supervision, parole, home detention or community detention, or prison inmates in “halfway care” who are in the process of being reintegrated into society.
We have further developed mobile asset tracking, which has allowed South African businesses to save thousands of Rands by not having to replace moveable assets due to loss or theft, and the implementation of increased insurance premiums and excess payments essentially neutralised.
In conclusion, the rise of common protocols, integrated networks and on-demand software will continue to drive innovation in the telematics sector. Ultimately, this sector has a bright future and will continue to expand and develop as it aligns with rapid technological innovation.