Telematics, Explained

by Melanie Baravik
December 15, 2017

What is telematics? Since ES Track is a telematics platform, we talk about it a lot. So we want to clear up its meaning and show how telematics is being put to use, in construction and in the world.

Definition

First, the basics: the definition of telematics. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “the branch of information technology that deals with the long-distance transmission of computerized information.” It’s a compound word combining “telecommunications” and “informatics,” a perfect summary of its use as a way to share information electronically.

Telematics in everyday life

Telematics are most widely used in the automotive industry today. Lots of new cars come with standard features that utilize telematics — GPS, Bluetooth, blind spot monitors and maintenance sensors, just to name a few. These systems collect data, like your location or the vehicle’s tire air pressure, and transmit that information to you, on your navigation screen or with a “low tire” alert on your dashboard. One of the oldest and most common uses of vehicle telematics is OnStar, an emergency service that automatically contacts emergency services if it detects a crash.

In recent years, some car insurance companies have started offering customers a way to lower their rates — using telematics. Drivers install a telematics device in their car and it records their driving habits and relays the information to their insurance company. Drivers deemed “safe” could get a rate discount after proving their good habits.

Autonomous driving is another telematics application that’s becoming more and more common. Tesla is quickly bringing the technology into the mainstream with the introduction of the more affordable Tesla Model 3 and the self-driving electric Semi.

In a conflation of these telematics uses, some insurers offer safe driving discounts to customers that drive Teslas when they use the Autopilot feature. This is only the beginning for self-driving cars, so no doubt more insurers will follow suit as autopilot becomes a routine feature.

In the construction industry

Just like in cars, telematics in construction are used largely for mitigating risk and reducing costs. Telematics collects information that makes it easy to keep tabs on a variety of vehicles and equipment. That can include the asset’s location, whether or not it’s in motion, or even if it’s due for an oil change. Some platforms, like ES Track, are ELD-compliant and can produce IFTA reports, helping fleet managers stay compliant and organized.

The data collected by a telematics platform can also be used to reduce overall costs for a business. ES Track can track which vehicles idle for too long, wasting fuel, and fleet managers can put procedures in place to cut down on waste. Contractors can get regular maintenance alerts allowing them to service assets with as little downtime as possible.

Equipment monitoring is far from the only use for construction telematics — cutting costs and improving jobsite communication and safety are big benefits to putting a high-tech solution to work. It won’t be long until every jobsite is using telematics in some way, big or small.

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