Will “Big Data” Revolutionise the Fleet Industry, or Lead to a Tightening of Surveillance on Fleet Vehicles?

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New technological developments within the fleet industry have meant that wireless connectivity is now available within luxury car models. However, with the current rates of technological growth, predictions state that one in five vehicles will have a wireless network connection by 2020.

Andrew Ryan, Reporter and Author for Fleet News has contacted leading members of suppliers and organisations for their views regarding the increasing wireless networking capabilities.

Mathew Walters, head of consultant services at LeasePlan UK stated that:

“For fleets, connected car technology has the potential allow us to understand almost every aspect of a vehicle’s operation in real time, including speed, acceleration and deceleration, mapping, engine performance and fuel usage, among many other factors.”

“Combining this intelligence to services available to the driver, along with predictive analytics, will completely transform the fleet management industry…For example, in identifying peaks and dips in the fuel efficiency of each vehicle, driver behaviour that might be uneconomical could be addressed, ultimately improving efficiency.”

Whilst Walters’ comments suggest that big data could revolutionise fleet analytics, drivers and employees fear that this could lead to a tightening of company policy in regards to driving methods and vehicle routes. Indeed, many have questioned whether networking vehicles will lead to an increase in policy regulations in order to save as much fuel (and therefore money) for the company as possible, even if it’s at the cost of employee convenience and comfort.

Walters’ continues to talk about how big data could identify any underlying mechanical problems that a vehicle has, as well as any underlying physical symptoms that may be present in the vehicles driver.

He states that:

“Measurements from hydraulics and data from sensors could also help identify maintenance issues and mechanical problems before they even occur, ultimately reducing vehicle downtime and increasing the productivity and reliability of a fleet.”

“The technology also has the potential to determine whether the driver is distracted or tired, what their heart rate is and ultimately whether they are in a healthy state to drive. All of which could vastly reduce driver-related incidents and insurance premiums.”

Other industry leaders, such as Beverly Wise, sales director for UK and Ireland at TomTom Telematics suggest that the advance in big data technology will allow for an increase in efficiency at the workplace, eliminating human error and effectively aiding the sales teams. She states that the technology could allow “businesses to create more accurate HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) mileage claims by automatically logging trips and allowing drivers to validate them from their smartphone or driver terminal.”

Wise continues to explain that:

“Fleet management data can also be combined with customer data to help sales teams work more efficiently…This enables sales managers to compare trip data with opportunities, leads and closed deals so the effectiveness of sales representatives can be analysed.”

“Such integrations can reduce reliance on paper-based systems, helping companies to cut the administrative burden through seamless data flow between field, vehicle and office.”