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How 5G and Data can Help Enhance Fleet Connectivity

By Verizon Connect October 14, 2020

Through the ongoing use of telematics, the internet of things (IoT), and GPS tracking technology, coupled with the implementation of electronic logging devices (ELDs), the trucking industry is producing more data than ever before. But what can we do with that data? How can we make it more valuable and actionable for trucking companies to see continued improvement, innovation and enhanced safety?

The opportunity exists for businesses of all sizes to turn near real-time data into insights that can fuel operational improvements: instant data-streams from smartphones, tablets, GPS vehicle tracking systems, and connected equipment provide companies with information that can point them to smarter decisions on how to manage their days and their businesses. 

James Tsai, a professor at Georgia Tech in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has been involved in research that looks far into the future of data. He believes that data will help innovate, create “smarter” cities, keep drivers safer on the roads and ultimately change the way that people do business each and every day. 

Tsai says, “Innovation comes by utilizing machine learning and other deep, learning-based, intelligent systems. How do we use that to change the way people do business? How do I find the data I already have to turn out additional information I can use or benefit from?"

5G networks enable the next level connectivity

According to Tsai, the right data is a boon to the transportation industry, now and well into the future. 

Many companies are currently interested in creating value in terms of cost-savings, greater efficiency and safety initiatives—and data can help. “You have tons of data every day,” he says. “How do we use this data to create a new value?” 

Enhanced 5G technology could be a major factor in the ongoing benefits that businesses can see from the amount of data they are collecting, moving away from the low latency tradeoffs that 4G networks require. As vehicles continue to add IOT hardware and computing power, the number of data points, and the frequency at which they are collected, even down to milliseconds, will multiply. Increased vehicle connectivity is needed to take that data out of the vehicle and communicate it with other vehicles and the remote infrastructure. Given the expected increase in quality and volume of data, a faster, higher capacity network is needed: that’s where 5G wireless networks step in, and that’s where fleet managers can begin to create additional value.

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Using data to help keep drivers safe

According to Tsai, cities and businesses begin to realize additional benefits when they apply the data and improved processes gleaned from new technology to help keep drivers safe on the roads. “The bigger vision is: how do we provide a safe road and to promote mobility?” he says. “We continue working on integrating the transportation industry with smart cities. Smart cities can build and maintain an infrastructure, and we can help ensure that it's safe.”

Tsai explains that data can be utilized to help understand driver behavior, how drivers interact on the roadway and what the characteristics of their driving actions are. “Companies are all collecting data, but they just haven’t figured out how to utilize it yet,” he says. “How did you create a positive incentive to encourage people to drive or behave well?” 

The answer? Data has the information that fleet owners can apply to begin to see enhanced driver safety. There are hundreds of metrics that fleets can monitor and then report on, from individual driver behaviors to organization-wide KPIs. Factors monitored and reported by GPS fleet technology can include:

  • Mileage and after-hours mileage
  • Hard braking
  • Hard acceleration
  • Excessive speeding versus the posted speed limit
  • Seat belt utilization

The challenge is to identify the specific metrics that will promote safe driving and reduce the risk of accidents. For example, looking further into the data when it comes to a sudden acceleration made by a driver on the road. Perhaps, instead of being an unsafe action, the driver came upon a curve or needed to maneuver around another vehicle to make sure they were safe. 

Dynamic mapping of roadway conditions is also critical here—so that drivers understand where the high-risk areas of their route might be. This is a systematic way to help improve safety on the road, using the data already generated by a telematics solution. 

Information is power for fleets

Tsai is currently working on a technology using LiDAR (light detection and ranging) that helps with nighttime visibility. The technology helps drivers see pavement marking, roadside signs and road conditions in the dark. This is then used to create dynamic mapping, which helps with ongoing safety assessments of signs and roadways to fuel improvements. 

"If you can have timely information available," he says, "then every state DOT can utilize the data gathered through these vehicles, and through intelligent processing and mapping, they can determine if roads or signs are in poor condition. This leads to them being very quickly replaced before accidents or crashes happen. It creates a safer environment and infrastructure for everyone."

Find out more about how your business can prepare to reap the benefits of 5G wireless technology and data from Verizon Connect.

James Tsai has spoken at leading industry events including Connected Fleets USA that brings together the trucking industry for knowledge exchange.

Verizon Connect

Verizon Connect Staff represents a team of professionals passionate about everything telematics. Get to hear about the latest trends, product features and industry best practices from the desk of Verizon Connect Staff.

Tags: Productivity & Efficiency, Vehicle Maintenance

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