What is a connected vehicle?

As the IoT revolution gains momentum, one phrase you’re likely to hear more often is ‘connected vehicle’.

What is a connected vehicle, how does it work, and what benefits does it offer drivers and fleet owners?

A connected vehicle: the definition

In its simplest form, a car with an Internet connection is considered a connected vehicle.

How that connection is created can vary, with some vehicles including it as standard equipment, while others require aftermarket solutions.

  • Built-in telematics - Many manufacturers started including connected devices (sometimes referred to as a black box) that can be used for remote roadside assistance or emergency services.
  • Aftermarket device - Vehicle owners can purchase a dedicated Internet device that is installed in the vehicle, and connects to the OBD port.
  • Portable hotspot - An Internet-connected device (such as a smartphone or tablet) can create a wireless hotspot, however this often lacks engine data such as real-time trouble codes.

To create a connected vehicle you need several different elements to come together. This includes an Internet-enabled device, software applications and an Internet connection.

The vehicle itself must allow for data to be transferred from the engine, chassis and electronics, to the connected black box, for sending to a central data center or the driver’s mobile device.

That data is then used by fleet owners to make better decisions about how vehicles are used, when they get serviced and how drivers are trained.

Connected vehicles: Benefits for owners and drivers

Connected vehicles have been talked about in the consumer space for quite some time. And, while auto makers are slowly integrating connected applications - due to lengthy lead times in design and production, there is a growing presence of smart tools for drivers.

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Much of the current focus for in-vehicle connectivity, particular in the B2C market, is infotainment. Features such as streaming music, instant messaging, email services and up-to-the-minute weather keep drivers informed, and entertained, while behind the wheel.

But the B2B space for the connected vehicle is heating up as mobile enterprises realize the massive value of having a more coordinated workforce.

Improving the flow of information between mobile workers and managers, leads to more effective decisions, and better use of resources.

GPS vehicle tracking solutions are creating a more productive working environment for mobile enterprises, providing a range of software applications that make the most of the connected vehicle.

  • Performance-enhancing data - Use incoming data from the field to help drivers monitor their performance in a number of areas including driving style, fuel efficiency, safety and productivity.
  • Paperless work orders - Cut down on the paper-based form filling with electronic work orders. Data, including photos and signature, can be uploaded as jobs are completed, with GPS verifying the worker’s location. This also reduces the time needed to return to the office to catch up on paperwork.
  • Diagnostic alerts - Using DTCs (Diagnostic Trouble Codes) directly from the vehicle’s ECM (Engine Control Module), GPS vehicle tracking solutions can alert a fleet manager of maintenance issues in real time. Major downtime or costly repairs can be avoided by resolving problems early.
  • Hazard alerts  - Drivers can receive audible alerts of upcoming hazards including recent events such as traffic accidents or poor weather. A GPS vehicle tracking solution can also collate and verify feedback from more than 150,000 professional drivers around the country to keep everyone informed.
  • Responsive dispatching - With all connected vehicles reporting location, current status and jobs still to do, it’s easy for back-office dispatch to assign the best driver to a new ad hoc or emergency job.

The connected vehicle is revolutionizing how mobile workers operate in the field and is giving enterprises the key to unlocking a lot of potential, potential that was previously untapped.


Connected Vehicles - Fast Facts

Massive growth potential in M2M market - According to ABI Research, it is expected that by 2020 there will be more than 40 billion connected machines. In contrast, the number of personal smart devices (phones, tablets & PCs) is expected to reach just 7 billion by that time. DSRC (Dedicated Short Range Communication) - A two-way short-to-medium-range wireless communications capability that permits very high data transmission for use in communications-based active safety applications. Learn more Cellular connectivity - Current connectivity uses 3G and 4G (with 5G on the way) to connect a vehicle to the Internet. This allows for a vehicle to transmit information (such as its current position, speed and engine performance) to a data center for processing and displaying on a secure web dashboard. For vehicles that operate outside a wireless network, satellite connectivity can be used to prevent communication gaps. Distracted driving - Some have raised safety concerns relating to connectivity that it could create a more distracted environment for the driver. The CDC claim that more than eight people are killed and 1,161 injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. GPS vehicle tracking solutions can help to reduce the temptation to use a device while driving including a service that can automatically read out high priority messages.

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